The Charlotte Hornets broke their season-long seven-game losing streak in a big way Wednesday night, blowing out the division rival Atlanta Hawks 107-84 at Time Warner Cable Arena. It has been weeks since we have a Charlotte victory of any kind, let alone a win that big. The 23-point victory was just two points short of the Hornets' biggest all season.
How did it happen? How did the Hornets turn it around so dramatically?
First, this time is a MUCH better team at Time Warner Cable Arena. Charlotte is 14-7 at home, including 10-4 against Eastern Conference opponents. Just look at the stats (via NBA.com):
Not included on this chart is their opponents' per game stats, which also show a heavy slant towards home dominance. At Time Warner Cable Arena, the Hornets limit opponents to 94.7 points per game and 41.7 percent on field goals (30.4 percent on 3s). Away from Charlotte, the Hornets give up 104.9 points per game, as opponents shoot 46.2 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent from deep.
So to recap, when the Hornets play at home, they, on average, win 103.3-94.7. When they are on the road, they, again on average, lose 104.9-98.6.
In Charlotte's case, home cooking is a major advantage for them.
The second reason for the blowout victory was a return to form for the team. The Hornets, for the first time in a long time, put together near-complete efforts on both sides of the ball simultaneously. For weeks, we should see the offense show up, but the defense let the team down. Or the defense would keep the Hornets in a game, only for the offense to let them down.
Tonight, both came together in a dominant effort from the start. Charlotte opened the game on a 17-2 run, limiting the Hawks to just 1-of-11 shooting and forcing six turnovers. Atlanta would end the game shooting 37 percent from the floor and just 28 percent from deep to go with 16 turnovers, while Charlotte finished the evening shooting 43.9 percent from the floor (32.5 percent from deep). Kemba Walker was his usual scoring self (23 points), but got scoring help from Cody Zeller and Jeremy Lin (19 points a piece). Only one Hornet, Aaron Harrison, played and did not score.
Most importantly, the Hornets, who on average are outrebounded by nearly two boards a game, outrebounded the Hawks by 17 and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds.
The third reason for the victory was that the team had some extra motivation coming from not just coach Steve Clifford, but from the higher ups. It was revealed after Wednesday's win that owner Michael Jordan paid the team a visit at practice the day before.
Michael Jordan addressed @hornets Tuesday. Told players to get out of their selves and into the team.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) January 14, 2016
If a pep talk from the GOAT doesn't help inspire you, then I'm not sure what could. Perhaps the Hornets need his Airness to give pep talks before every game.