The Charlotte Hornets probably should have lost tonight. They came into tonight’s game on a back to back against the same New York Knicks team that had just beaten them in overtime the night before. On top of this they were playing without two of their most important players Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum. They shot 69 percent from the free throw line and had 10 turnovers. With all of this coming together it felt like nothing was going to go the Hornets way. They were even wearing sleeved jerseys which, let’s be honest, that’s just asking for trouble.
However, that’s not what happened at all as a severely injured and tired Hornets team managed to hang on to an impressive win. They started off the game hot quickly jumping out to a 20 point lead and for a little bit there it felt like they were gonna run away with this one. That was until the second unit came in. New York’s bench thoroughly outplayed Charlotte’s early on and managed to keep the game from getting out of hand. From that point on all New York had to do was slowly chip away at the Hornet lead.
While the Knicks would eventually catch up it wasn’t without plenty of setbacks. Most of the work was done by Kristaps Porzingis. His 25 points led the Knicks and he was generally unstoppable for large chunks of the game. New York made a brilliant decision to stagger Porzingis in with the second unit to get the ball in his hands, and the Charlotte bench had no answer. If it hadn’t been for that Porzingis 25 the Hornets may have won this one handily, because it took Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose 20 plus attempts each to reach 18 points. No need for advanced stats on this one. That’s bad.
Kemba Walker on the other hand did not have the same inefficiency woes. He continued his incredible season by pouring in 28 points with 11 free throw attempts. Without Batum it was up to Walker to carry the load and he did an incredible job of doing so. Of course, he had some help but in the came from an unexpected source. Jeremy Lamb had not only his best game of the season, but potentially his best as a member of the Hornets. Lamb scored a cool 18 points, but perhaps more impressive were the 17 rebounds he pulled down. His efforts kept the Hornets going during rough stretches and it’s moments like this that give us hope he can put together a consistent season.
Thanks to Walker and Lamb, despite a very poor night at the free throw line the Hornets found themselves playing ahead for most of the game. The Knicks took the lead once the entire game, but that was short lived as the Hornets ripped it right back. New York got very close quite a few times at the end to tying this one up for a second straight overtime, but Charlotte sweated it out and came out on top. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but they got the job done.
With this victory Charlotte is now back to two games above .500 after slowly creeping down towards that mark through the second half of November. Injuries and close losses have plagued this group the last few weeks, but the Hornets managed to stop their recent slide just in time. There’s no guarantee that injuries won’t be the end of them in the future, but for now Charlotte is sitting in a good spot which is really all you can ask of them.