For much of the past month, the Charlotte Hornets have ridden the incredible play of Kemba Walker, and it's paid off -- Walker had scored at least 30 points or more in every game for the month of March, and the Hornets rode a five game winning streak heading into last night. However, for the first time during this streak, Walker was not the key player for the Hornets. Instead, there were contributions from several players in their 118-103 win over the Detroit Pistons, with seven players scoring in double figures. As a team, Charlotte shot 50.6 percent from the field, and 40 percent from the 3-point line, and 28 of their 42 made field goals were assisted. It was the kind of team performance on offense that showed the Hornets can rely on a number of players even on nights when Walker isn't the leading scorer. Of the rest of the bunch, four players stood out:
17 points is a solid number for Batum, albeit on 6-15 shooting. Batum's biggest contribution Friday though was his passing, as he finished with 11 assists. Six of those came in the first quarter, when Charlotte's offense was running as well as the best in the league. Scoring 38 points in any quarter is well above average, but doing it in the first quarter gave Charlotte early momentum, and control of the game.
Batum always seems to see plays develop before they do. He constantly reads defenses, and will exploit defenses based on their decisions. When his play-making is at it's peak, Batum can create high percentage shots quickly and often. This was the case Friday. Whether it was leading breaks, or finding cutters in the half-court, Batum was dialed in:
SLAM! dup duhh dupt! Let the GodZellers be GodZellers! pic.twitter.com/NCK86feGRD— HornetsGIFs (@HornetsGIFs) March 12, 2016
On this play, Batum hit Zeller rolling to the basket. It was set up thanks to Zeller's great ball screen, but Batum recognized that Andre Drummond was caught in a bad position, and found Zeller for the slam. Zeller is one of a few players who have benefited from Batum's passing ability, and last night was a sample of that.
I wrote a few weeks ago that Williams had become one of the most important players on the roster. That hasn't changed. Williams was the leading scorer last night, finishing with 22 points on 7-12 shooting, and 5-8 from the 3-point line. Apparent both last night and over the past month was Williams' confidence shooting the ball. There was no hesitation in his shot, and his release almost looked quicker.
Marvin capitalized on the attention Walker and Batum received from Detroit. All of his points were assisted, and many came off of pick-and-pop sets. It can't be understated just how important Williams was last night. His first two 3-pointers gave Charlotte an early 13-4 lead. Then, late in the third quarter, he scored five straight points after the Pistons had cut the lead to nine, which temporarily stopped their run. Williams arguably the third best scoring option behind Walker and Batum, and he's shooting effectively -- as his 48.3 3-point percentage in March can attest to.
Finishing with 15 points on 7-9 shooting, Lee came just one point shy of equaling his season high with the Hornets set, in the previous game. If anything, Lee's scoring is a welcomed bonus to a player who until recently had only been thriving on the defensive end. Lee didn't attempt any 3-pointers, and instead took defenders off the dribble, making a number of mid-range shots. What was noticeable both last night and against New Orleans on Wednesday was Lee's comfort level. He appears to have grasped both the offensive system, and the tendencies of his teammates, and it's starting to pay off in the scoring column.
Lee has now put together two solid shooting performances in a row. He's not going to be the primary scoring threat in any lineup, but like Marvin, he can benefit from the attention defenses give to the Hornets' primary scorers.
Frank Kaminsky gif party
Special consideration goes to Kaminsky, who scored 10 points on 4-6 shooting, and provided us with plenty of worthy gifs (shoutout to the twitter account HornetsGIFs, who mayyyy or may not be an At the Hiver?)
tonight's pregame music was "never scared" by bone crusher ft killer mike. pic.twitter.com/xn7KLpKyGf— HornetsGIFs (@HornetsGIFs) March 12, 2016
Pretty sure he just teabagged Marcus Morris. pic.twitter.com/N1rm4dmfg8— HornetsGIFs (@HornetsGIFs) March 12, 2016
That last one has me feeling all sorts of nice things.