Mo Williams, mo' problems.
The newest Charlotte Hornet continued his great play Sunday night, putting up 23 points and 11 assists, as Charlotte took down the Orlando Magic, 98-83.
The win is significant for multiple reasons. First, the Hornets (24-33) now split the season series with the Magic (19-42), with the road team winning each game. Second, the victory moves Charlotte into a three-way tie for the eight-seed and a half-game back of the seven seed. Third, Charlotte is now 7-4 in the division and two games over .500 in the conference, both statistics that could be used as potential tiebreakers come playoff time.
MKG was great again — 11 points and 13 rebounds. Al Jefferson was best when the team needed him most (aka the fourth quarter), finishing with 16 points and 11 boards. He even hit his second 3-pointer of the season. Cody Zeller had five dunks and chipped in 16 points and eight rebounds. He most likely would've have bigger numbers, but he was limited to just 25 minutes thanks to foul trouble throughout the game. Gerald Henderson had one of his best shooting nights of the season: 7-of-13 from the floor after starting the night 0-for-3 for 16 points (including 2-for-4 on 3s).
The team in general shot well, actually. They finished the night shooting 50% from the floor and 44.4% from deep.
Really, there were two games within this game: when the starters played and when the second unit played.
When the starters were in, the team looked cohesive on offensive (after eight turnovers in the first quarter) and shutdown on defense. When the backups were in, though? It was the exact opposite. The team was alright defensively, but were so poor offensively that it overshadowed their defense. They contributed their fair share of turnovers and poor shots that allowed the Magic to get out in transition and score some easy baskets. It was the reason the game stayed as close as it did for as long as it did.
When the second half started, the Hornets' starters took the game over. Mo Williams went Mo Williams on the Magic, the team cut down their turnovers and began forcing a few of their own, en route to Charlotte outscoring Orlando by 14 in the third and fourth quarters.
Speaking of Mo Williams...
5 new home PGs: Mo 23.5 pts 6 ASTs Dragic 13.8 pts 5.4 ASTs Reggie 16 pts 33% FG 6.5 ASTs MCW 10.3 pts 5 ASTs Knight 13.6 pts 4 ASTs— Frank Berndt (@MullensMafia) March 1, 2015
Those stats do not include Williams' performance tonight. Think it is safe to say that the Mo Williams experiment has been quite the success so far. It is part of the reason I am so excited for Kemba Walker's return, so that either Walker or Williams moves down to the second unit to provide them the scoring spark they so desperately are seeking.
The team defense does deserve some credit for the victory tonight as well. The Orlando Magic were held to 36.5% from the field. Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton shot a combined a 8-for-29 from the floor. In fact, Vucevic — who has been a thorn in the Hornets' side all season — was held to put 10 points, tied for his lowest scoring output of the season.
Charlotte's next game comes Tuesday when they return to the Hive to host the Los Angeles Lakers.