It was an eventful Nickelodeon night at Time Warner Cable Arena, as the Charlotte Hornets routed the Phoenix Suns 126-92 in their return from a six game road-trip. After losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, the Hornets got off to a quick start against the Suns thanks to Kemba Walker, who tallied 14 points in the first quarter. It was apparent early on that the Hornets were eager to avenge their January loss in Phoenix, and along with Walker's scoring, Nicolas Batum added eight points in pursuit to a 35-18 lead after the first quarter.
The Suns, who only won one game in the month of February, looked as helpless on offense as they did on defense. The Hornets ran up and down the court with ease all night, and were never threatened by the Suns' attack. The lone bright spot for the Suns in the first half was the play of Mirza Teletovic, who scored 14 of his 17 points. If you remember correctly, Teletovic had 19 points with five made threes in the prior meeting between these two teams. Alex Len also added seven points and nine rebounds at the power forward position in the first 24 minutes.
As for the Hornets, they put up another 30 plus point quarter before the half with 14 of those points coming from the bench. While only three points shy of their season record in first half points with 68, the Hornets took a comfortable 26 point lead into the locker room.
The second half was much of the same. The Hornets scored 30 again in the third quarter and stretched their lead even further. Al Jefferson scored nine in the third quarter and ended up having his best offensive game since returning to the lineup with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds. Walker added 12 himself in the third and finished with an amazing stat line of 26 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in only three quarters of action. Additionally, Jeremy Lamb proved to be a spark off the bench in the second half, and finished with 15 points on six of 10 shooting.
In the fourth quarter, the Hornets' lead stretched all the way to 43, and saw Steve Clifford empty his bench. In fact, every active player for the Hornets scored and saw at least seven and a half minutes of on-court action. Jorge Gutierrez, who signed another 10-day contract this morning, tallied five points. For the Suns, Len finished with a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds, while rookie Devin Booker finished with 13 points on a poor four of 16 shooting.
It was certainly an uplifting return to Charlotte for the Hornets, but they have to make a quick turnaround tomorrow as they head to Philadelphia to play the 76ers. Although it will be the second game of a back-to-back, the Hornets should be able to take care of business. They previously beat the 76ers at home back on November 20th.