Trey. Trey. That's how the game started for the Charlotte Hornets tonight. Newly acquired Mo Williams hit two 3-pointers to begin the game against Eastern Conference foe Toronto. The buckets had Time Warner Cable Arena on their feet. In the stat book, Charlotte only won by nine but it was much worse than that. Mo and crew had the fans on their feet the whole fourth quarter like they did to start the game.
Early on the Hornets built themselves an 18-8 lead.Toronto cut that early lead to one, 25-24, as the first quarter ended. Each Charlotte starter scored and Gerald Henderson led the way with seven.
Charlotte built another solid lead, up seven, 43-36, with 3:15 left in the second quarter. The offense was moving the ball like they had rarely done all year and Lance Stephenson was attacking the rim and being aggressive, trying to drive to the bucket. It was a welcomed sight after the marquee free agent has been passive for much of the season. The Hornets entered the locker room up nine at halftime with Hendo (11 points) and Al Jefferson (10) leading the way.
Both of the storylines tonight, Lance Stephenson and the game's chippiness, started in the second quarter. Stephenson played the entire second quarter and contributed six points, three rebounds, and three assists with zero turnovers. Lance's stellar play was paired with the chippiness that occurred.
Pushing, shoving, and talking started early on but the refs didn't start to use their authority until the second half. Double technical fouls were called on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jonas Valaciunas early in the third quarter. Charlotte had an early 13-point lead in the quarter but it was quickly reduced to four. Mo Williams hit another three and then shortly after technical fouls were called on Hendo and Terrance Ross. After the dust cleared, Charlotte's lead was one but then Mo came through and hit another timely trey. The Hornets carried a six-point, 77-71 lead into the fourth quarter.
Charlotte got up 10, 85-75 and coasted the rest of the way for the win. It looked too easy at times on both ends of the floor for the Hornets. It was one of the best all-around performances this team has had all year. They owned the glass, played good defense as usual and continued their stellar play on offense. It was the seventh game in a row that they have scored 98 points or more. The crowd, the bench, and Lance celebrated throughout the fourth quarter and it was warranted.
Tonight's victory was the fourth win a row for Charlotte and it was the Hornets' sixth straight win over the Raptors and the eighth consecutive win over Toronto at home. The record for most technical fouls for the Hornets and their opponent was three entering tonight. Their were four in the third quarter alone and six in all.
Al Jefferson led the way with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and even added five assists. Big Al's double-double tonight was his third in the last four games.Hendo finished with 13 points and MKG contributed eight points and 11 rebounds. Kidd-Gilchrist reached double-digit rebounds for the sixth time in the last seven games.
Mo Williams continued his streak of incredible games in a Hornets uniform, finished with 23 points on 50 percent shooting overall and from 3-point land. He also added seven assists. Lance's final line was 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds, and four assists. It was only Lance's second game in double-figures in the last 16 contests.
The win improves Charlotte's post-All-Star break record to 5-3 and pushes them into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.