Finally! The Charlotte Hornets come out in the first quarter with some gas. The Hornets outscored the Milwaukee Bucks 29 to 17 in the first quarter. Most of that had to do with the terrific play of Nicolas Batum.
Nicolas Batum was playing like a man possessed in the first half. Through two quarters, Batum put up 23 points, five rebound, and three assists including a streak of 13 points in a row for the Hornets. He was deadliest from the 3-point line, making five of his seven first half attempts. Most of his shots from beyond the arc were strongly defended, but it did not matter.
Batum shot whenever he wanted and made the majority of his attempts. He was so on fire that he tied his career high for 3-pointers in a game with five (in the first half!). Nights like this make Hornets fans want Charlotte's front office to empty the check book at Batum. It is no secret he is the biggest difference in the team between last year and this year. You could easily make the argument that the Hornets are only in the playoffs right now because of him. His playmaking ability combined with his high basketball IQ has lifted the Hornets to a level of play unseen to the area in years.
Kemba Walker dished out his 1900th assist in the first half against the Buck. He currently sits in fourth on the Hornets all-time leader list. Kemba may never get to first on this list, but he should easily get to second by the end of the 2017-2018. Here is the Hornets all-time assist leaders:
- Muggsy Bogues 5557
- Raymond Felton 2573
- David Wesley 1911
- Kemba Walker 1902
- Baron Davis 1605
This is an important achievement. Kemba may not be made from the mold of the perfect point guard, but you cannot deny his talent. He was a fringe All-Star this year who works well in Charlotte. A year and a half removed from Kemba's extension, his four year $48 million contract looks like a steal in retrospect.
The biggest difference between last year and this year is the Hornets' ability to knock down the 3-point shot. Tonight the Hornets made 13 of 24 3-point shots. Tonight was Charlotte's 46th game of the season making double digits 3-pointers. That's crazy!
Read the above tweet and also take into account that just last year the Hornets only made 498 from beyond the arc. Last year's team also had Lance Stephenson who set an NBA record for worst 3-point percentage in a season ever with a percentage of 17.1. What a turnaround! The Hornets threat from deep opens driving lanes for Kemba and Lin, cutting lanes for Cody Zeller, extra space for Al Jefferson to work on the block, and (usually) 50 percent off Papa Johns pizza.
This was a great win for a team that came off a terrible loss the night before in Detroit. Up next is a home and away against the Philadelphia 76ers.