The Charlotte Hornets blew out the Indiana Pacers 117-95 Wednesday night in what was an all-around team effort that saw six Hornets score in double figures. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down with a dislocated shoulder in the third quarter, but a hot second quarter and 25 points from Kemba Walker helped the Hornets get past the Pacers.
It was clear early on that the Hornets were simply a much better team than the Pacers, but key buckets from Paul George and Myles Turner kept the two teams tied at 25 after the first quarter. Walker came out blazing, scoring 10 of his 25 points in the first quarter on 4-of-4 shooting.
The second quarter saw the Hornets take command on both ends of the floor, opening on a 17-4 run and shooting 59.1 percent from the field while limiting the Pacers to 42.1 percent. The Hornets' bench was a key factor in the second quarter, scoring 25 of the Hornets' 35 points. The Pacers bench, which includes Joe Young, C.J. Miles, and Glenn Robinson III, was over-matched against the Hornets' well-oiled reserves. It's about time the Hornets' bench got back in gear.
Jeremy Lin was a man on a mission in the first half.
He scored seven points and dished out two beautiful assists in his 11 first-half minutes, including this gorgeous dime:
The third quarter was reminiscent of the second, with the Hornets absolutely obliterating Indiana on both ends and eventually stretching their lead to 25 points. But then the unimaginable happened. In typical Kidd-Gilchrist fashion, MKG hustled for a loose ball, fell, and had a Pacer land on him, effectively pinning his shoulder to the ground. We'd later learn Kidd-Gilchrist suffered a dislocated shoulder. He did not return, and will receive an MRI later tonight.
Luckily, the Hornets don't play again until Feb. 19, so he has time to rest if the injury's not severe.
The Pacers seized on a deflated Hornets squad and went on a 15-6 run at one point — bringing the score to 75-64 — but were never really able to get within striking distance. The lead the Hornets built was too much to overcome, and they eventually regained momentum and put the Pacers away.
The Hornets' offense, especially in the second and third quarters, was some of the best I've seen from them this season. Seldom did a player hold the ball for more than a few seconds. The wings were cutting with purpose. Players moved to the right spots to accommodate the ball handler. That's what a motion offense is supposed to look like.
Tonight's unsung hero is undoubtedly Cody Zeller, who finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Zeller was tasked with limiting Turner's impact and after a tough go in the first quarter, locked him down with relative ease — after scoring eight points in the first quarter, Turner scored just two for the rest of the game and shot 1-of-5 from the field.