A strong third quarter was enough for the Charlotte Hornets to win on the road against the Brooklyn Nets, 99 to 95. Kemba Walker led with 30 points and six rebounds, while Nicolas Batum finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Brooklyn entered the game 2-3, but had spoiled the nights of the Pacers and Pistons so far. Even without former Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin, they proved to be a tough win.
Like in their previous few games, the Hornets shot poorly to start the game, and trailed 15-8 halfway through the first quarter. Brooklyn’s lead would grow to 21-8, but the Hornets would slowly cut away at it, thanks almost entirely to Walker and Batum, who totaled 22 of the team’s 23 points in the quarter.
Charlotte’s offensive struggles would continue into the second. They looked out of rhythm, and forced a lot of low percentage shots. Brooklyn took advantage, and would lead by double-digit margins for good portions of the quarter.
With under three minutes remaining, the Nets would hold a 13 point lead. However, led by Walker, Batum, and Spencer Hawes, they would narrow the deficit. The three combined for 40 of the team’s 43 first half points, and the team would trail by seven entering halftime.
Things would turn around in the third quarter. It started defensively, forcing Brooklyn to turn the ball over, and into low percentage shots. Strong defense resulted in better offense, and the Hornets managed to get others involved. Cody Zeller would score seven points in the quarter, while Marvin Williams, who had started the game 0-10, knocked down a 3-pointer midway through for his first points of the game. Charlotte would take their first lead, 59-58 after two made free throws by Zeller midway through the quarter. They hold a small lead from that point.
A corner-3 by Frank Kaminsky would give Charlotte a 69-63 lead with 2:20 left in the third. Brooklyn would cut the lead in half by the end of quarter, and Charlotte would enter the 4th quarter up 73-70.
Charlotte would hold a small lead as the fourth quarter wound down. Brooklyn would threaten to tie a few times, but the Hornets would do just enough to maintain the lead.
Brooklyn would draw close with less than three minutes remaining. However, leading 87-86, Walker would knock down a 3-pointer to give his team a four point lead. Brook Lopez would answer with a 3-pointer of his own, but a few possessions later, Williams would knock down one from the corner to extend Charlotte’s lead back out to four.
The two possession game would give them a late advantage, and while Brooklyn would cut the lead to three with 2.5 seconds remaining, Zeller would make one of two free throws to seal the victory.
While Walker and Batum led the way, Charlotte got solid play from Hawes, who finished with 13 points on 5-8 shooting, along with five rebounds. Hawes provided much a needed third option for Charlotte, who had been relying heavily on Walker and Batum.
Zeller would finish with 10 points and six rebounds, and six assists, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would lead the team in rebounds with 10.
The Hornets are now 4-1 to start the season, and top the Southeast Division. They will get the weekend off, before returning home to play the Indiana Pacers on Monday.