The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Indiana Pacers 122-100 to improve to 5-1 and set the record for the best start in franchise history. Kemba Walker finished with 24 points and 10 assists, while six other Hornets finished in doubles figures in scoring.
The first quarter went well for Charlotte, and by well, I mean they came one point short of setting a franchise record for points in a quarter. The Hornets had 30 points midway through the first, and finished with 43. Walker had 10 points and seven assists, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist lead with 13 points.
While they lead by as much as 20, the Hornets let the Pacers back in late, and a buzzer beater by C.J. Miles cut Charlotte's lead to 9 at the end of the quarter.
The Pacers would come as close as seven the start the 2nd quarter, but Charlotte would regain some of their early defensive intensity. They would get help on the offensive end from Marco Belinelli, who scored eight points in his first seven minutes, and knocked down two 3-pointers. Midway through the 2nd, Charlotte held a 58-40 lead, and looked well in control.
Indiana would go on a quick burst and cut the lead to 13, but Charlotte would answer with a run of their own, and lead by 20 with under two minutes remaining. They'd end the half up 75-55, which tied the record for the most points scored in a half. Walker lead with 16 points and eight assists, and shot 5-7 from the field, and 3-3 from the 3-point line. The Hornets did a good job of defending Paul George in the first half, who was limited to just seven points.
Charlotte maintained a large lead for much of the third quarter. They continued to move the ball well, and made it difficult for Indiana to score. Walker knocked down two more 3-pointers in the quarter, which helped them push the lead to as high as 24. They’d end the quarter up 99-78.
The Hornets would roll out the full second unit to start the 4th quarter, but would maintain a 20 point lead. With the win intact, both teams would clear the benches with under seven minutes remaining.
While Indiana attempted to come back on a few occasions, the win never looked in doubt for Charlotte, who easily played their best offensive game of the season. They scored on their first 12 possessions, and found easy buckets by forcing Indiana into turning the ball over. Paul George was limited to just 10 points, while Monta Ellis finished with just seven. Going back to last season, the Hornets have now won four straight against the Pacers.
Two quick notes:
- MKG left in the first half with a sore lower back. He’d return briefly at the start of the 3rd quarter, but then leave again. No word on the extent of the injury beyond what was released, but let’s hope it’s minor.
- Al Jefferson, in his return to Charlotte, was one of the bright spots for Indiana. He finished with 12 points on 6-11 shooting in 19 minutes off the bench, which, if you weren’t careful, is a scoreline easily mistakable for one from last season. The team played a nice tribute for Big Al in the first quarter, and I’m fairly certain I heard one more “Biggggg Al!” from the PA announcer. We miss you, big guy.