It just wasn’t a good night for the Charlotte Hornets. The Memphis Grizzlies got out to an immediate lead and never looked back. They got out to a huge lead early, running the score to 16-4. After that, there was a period of recovery for the Hornets who brought the game closer before Mike Conley went on a bit of a tear.
Frank Kaminsky looked to be breaking out of his rut, starting 3-for-3 from the field, including a 3-pointer. And then he picked up his second foul. Hornets couldn’t afford to have him head to the bench after just two minutes, even if he did score seven points in that time span.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were playing basketball like they were on some type of Golden State Warriors trip. They ended up pouring in 69 points in the first half. Rob Gronkowski would have been proud. That was the most points the Hornets had allowed in a half all year.
The story behind all the scoring was mostly Mike Conley. The Memphis point guard turned in a complete half, scoring 18 with three rebounds, two assists and two steals with no turnovers. The Grizzlies also got a strong half from Marc Gasol with 13 points, six rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two blocks. That’s a beautiful line for any center.
It was piecemeal work from Charlotte. Kaminsky made it back into the game and dropped one more 3-pointer, starting 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from deep. After he and Kemba Walker started out strong, it was up to Marco Belinelli to bring the magic. For a short time, he did just that. He hit two 3-pointers but missed the rest of his shot, earning his other points via trips to the free throw line. When his impact started to dissipate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was ready to roll. Kidd-Gilchrist did contribute points, rebounds and assists, but his main contribution was energy. The Hornets failed to show much energy and suffered for it on both ends of the floor, though defense is where it really shined.
Hornets kept it within 10 points for a good chunk of the half, but Memphis blew it wide open before the half and when the teams retreated to the lockerrooms for the intermission, it was 69-45 for the Grizzlies.
The second half started up pretty much the way first half ended, a first half that featured a lot of bumbling from Ramon Sessions and poor shooting from Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. Batum didn’t make first 3 until 9:09 of third quarter, he was 0-for-3 before that.
Poor shooting plagued Charlotte, Batum didn’t get it going, but it was much worse from Williams and bench man Spencer Hawes. Williams started 0-for-6 and Hawes 0-for-7, getting his first make of the game with less than five minutes left in the third quarter.
The hero that pushed the Hornets back into the game was a guy we mentioned a few times, Kaminsky. Frank finished the third quarter with 20 points and helped Charlotte get as close as 11 points, a much better position than the 24-point deficit they started the second half with. Heading into the fourth quarter, they were down 84-71.
Kaminsky’s game was impressive considering he started hot, then had to sit for foul trouble, then picked up where he left off. Putting up 20 points, which is a season high for the big man, as a bench player before the third quarter ends is something special.
Charlotte kept inching closer into the fourth quarter, eventually getting the lead down to single digits. Immediately, Vince Carter responded with a clutch 3-pointer, pushing the lead back up to 12. From that point on, it was pretty much a 10-12 game for several minutes as the Hornets would catch some breaks and miss others. Fittingly, it was a huge Mike Conley 3-pointer with four minutes left that pretty much iced the game as the Grizzlies lead jump back to 17 points, 100-83.
The Hornets came up short in the end, but it was great to see Kaminsky tie his career-high with 23 points. Best of all, that scoring came during legitimate action, not in garbage time. He’ll need to that kind of player moving forward.
And for more on this ugly, ugly game, we turn to our good friends at Locked on Hornets. Take it away, gentlemen!