It's difficult to make much of games like this. The Chicago Bulls were without four of their starters as Derrick Rose was a late scratch, and the team was on the tail end of their final pre-All Star road trip. However, the Hornets did what needed to be done, jumping on the undermanned Bulls early, and never really letting it get close.
Second Wind from Batum and Kemba
These two were the bread and butter for the Hornets when they started off the season so strong, and it looks as though they've returned to form. This was the third straight game Kemba shot over forty percent from three, going 12 for 27 in that span. It seems Kemba is serious about not letting defenders go under pick and rolls on him, a welcome addition particularly for the game of a small-ish guard.
Tonight also marked the third straight game in which Batum shot better than forty five percent from the field, barely missing a triple double for the second game in a row. Oddly enough, Batum did not record a block tonight which ended a streak of four games in which he had — the longest for him so far this year. However, it backs up what we've seen on the court as Batum has seemed re energized on the defensive end of things.
P.J. Hairston recorded a DNP tonight, and you wonder how many more of these may be around the bend for ol' Peter Junior. Clifford seems to perhaps be committing himself (thankfully) to the idea of a nine man rotation, which puts P.J. in a tough spot. Jeremy Lin is simply too good, Frank Kaminsky too inexperienced, and Jeremy Lamb too wealthy (after a contract extension like five minutes into the season) to not get minutes. That leaves one spot available, and frankly Spencer Hawes has been playing just as a good as anyone off the bench recently. Not to mention that not that long ago, Troy Daniels was hitting game winners and even he recorded a DNP tonight. You wonder if P.J.'s contract situation has any bearing on his playing time, but at the moment it seems as though he's simply being outperformed by his peers.
Fred Hoiberg's Lack of Speaking
For whatever it's worth, I'm not sure I've ever seen Frank Hoiberg speak. Every shot of him on the sideline is just a stoic face looking on, wondering "what the hell have I gotten myself into — they used to call me the mayor..."
Shooting and More Shooting
A lot of interesting shooting-related subplots. For one, some of the worst misses I've ever seen on the Hornets side. The stand outs include Frank's second airball in as many games, Kemba somehow wedging a free throw between the rim and backboard, and Lin's epic, straight ahead backboard brick of a three point attempt.
However, much of the other developments were quite positive. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the first quarter showed a side to his game I'm not sure I've seen before, a sort of relatively effective post up/mid range attack. MKG used this a few times to shoot over smaller defenders and he had a lot of success with it. Difficult to tell if this was just MKG improvising in the moment and being opportunistic — or if in fact this is a part of his game he's been working on. My guess is it's the former, but maybe he's stumbled into something with this.
Another stylistic flair I really enjoyed was Nic Batum's two Dirk Nowitzki-esque jumpers from the wing. This seems to have been a more thought-out approach for Nic, as he's attempted them before just not with this kind of success. Batum's length and general glide he has to his game make this particular shot a fairly dangerous weapon for him if he's able to hit these consistently.
Lastly, both Cody Zeller and MKG hit a three, amazingly making their total made threes for the year match their respective totals for the entirety of their professional career prior to this season. Although visually, MKG's form seems to have regressed a tad since former shooting coach Mark Price left for the Charlotte 49ers, it does seem as though he's made an in-game commitment to making this whole outside shot thing happen. Not to mention he's 3-7 since coming back early from surgery on his shooting shoulder — so yeah, things could be worse. And Cody...I mean, nothing tops watching MKG finally start to hit from deep, but this comes pretty damn close. Cody, who form-wise should be light years ahead of Kidd-Gilchrist, went 1-1 from beyond the arc tonight, launching and hitting a corner three with shockingly little hesitation. This is a welcome (and honestly, needed) development from these young guys, and it's worth keeping tabs on as the playoffs approach.