Sunday night was fun and a very good end to a road trip for the Hornets. How did they blow out Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and earn a season sweep? Well, 1. the Lakers are not very good. 2. (and more importantly) there were these 3 factors.
1.Michael Kidd-Gilchrist v2.0
I cannot emphasize enough how much I, the Charlotte Hornets organization and (I assume) Hornets fans missed Kidd-Gilchrist, and Sunday night was a picture-perfect example of why he was so missed. He shut down Bryant, frustrating him with his tough and tenacious defense and helping Charlotte limit the Lakers to a season-low 16 first quarter points. When Kidd-Gilchrist hit the bench, Bryant started making shots, getting the Lakers right back in the contest. But when Kidd-Gilchrist reentered the game and took the defensive assignment on Bryant, it was back to missed shots for the future Hall of Farmer. Kidd-Gilchrist's hustle was a sight for sore eyes as well. All game, Kidd-Gilchrist crashed the offensive glass, grabbing four offensive boards and nearly grabbing a handful more.
But these were all trademarks we were used to seeing from MKG v1.0. What we saw last night that could change everything — Kidd-Gilchrist showing off range.
Nevermind the fact that MKG was a career 16.7 percent 3-point shooter and did not even attempt a 3 last season. Kidd-Gilchrist shot (and made) two 3-pointers last night, both a first for his career. He finished Sunday with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting.
Never leave us again, MKG.
2. Marvin Williams
Don't looks now, but Marvin Williams is quietly having a pretty solid season, highlighted by his play last night. His final stat line: 19 points (tied for game-high), 12 rebounds (tied for game-high), two assists, one steal and three blocks (tied for game-high). He went 7-of-13 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from deep, tied for a game-high with four offensive rebounds, and (more or less) played a variation of the MKG role when MKG was on the bench.
The MKG show may have overshadowed his game, but it was not missed here.
3. Overcoming a poor shooting night
The Hornets had a very poor shooting night last night. They shot 37.5 percent from the floor, 36.1 percent from deep and (low key warning alert) 61.5 percent from the free throw line.
So how in the heck did the team put up 101 points and win by nearly 20? By doing the little things right.
First, they played solid defense (remember when they did that all the time?) — Los Angeles shot 27-of-80 (33.8 percent) from the floor and 8-of-29 (27.6 percent) from 3. Second, bench points — Charlotte's Swarm Troopers outscored Los Angeles' bench 41 to 25, led by Frank Kaminsky's 11 points. Third, the team got back to moving the ball around — they finished the night with 28 assists on their 36 made field goals (77.8 percent of their shots, for those curious). Fourth, they dominated the boards — the Hornets outrebounded the Lakers 59 to 42, including 14 to 4 on the offensive glass.