There was nothing exciting about the Charlotte Hornets 199-99 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, and that's exactly how it should have been. This shouldn't have been a close game, and ultimately it wasn't, even if it stayed closer longer than expected. Last night's win will be quickly forgotten, reduced simply to win 32, and that's just fine. If we're going to dive into the details of the game however, here's what could be taken away.
Marvin Williams has quietly become one of the best players on the team
Williams finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds Wednesday night, which about equaled his averages for the month of February (14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game). He shot 6-11 from the field, including 2-4 from the 3-point line. His increased scoring has come at the right time -- with Nicolas Batum struggling with his shot of late, Williams has picked things up offensively, and that continued against Philadelphia. The Hornets didn't get off to a good start, down 7-1 early, but Williams scored eight points in three minutes to get Charlotte their first lead of the game. He played with a lot of energy as well, something he's done much of this season, and it resulted in three offensive rebounds, which was most on the team.
At this point in the season, he's become the Hornets third best scoring option in the starting lineup. He's not necessarily a dynamic scorer, but he's always shot ready, and his fit in the offense gets him plenty of open shot attempts. Add in his improved rebounding, and underrated defense, and a case could be made for him as the third most important player on the team behind Walker and Batum.
The Hornets made it an easy win, eventually
The final score doesn't tell the whole story -- the Hornets and Sixers were tied at 67 in the third quarter, and it was starting to look like it might be a close game the rest of the way. Had it remained close, we'd be talking about this game in a different way, but the Hornets managed to lock down defensively and pull away in the fourth.
That's ultimately all that matters. "Trap game" gets thrown around a lot, but this had the makings of one, given that the Hornets were playing in the second game of a back-to-back, and had to quickly hit the road after Tuesday night's win. Losing to the Sixers would have negated the win against Phoenix, and taken away some of the momentum gained in recent weeks. Instead, they enter a seven game home stand winners of 10 of their last 13.
The win matters most importantly in the standings
With two wins in as many nights, the Hornets kept their place as the six seed in the Eastern Conference. A loss would have seen the Hornets and Pacers locked in the standings, but instead Charlotte kept their one game lead with a chance to extend it to two on Friday, when they play Indiana at home. Given that the tenth placed Washington Wizards are only three games back of the fifth placed Atlanta Hawks (who the Hornets trail by half a game), it's important for the Hornets to take the winnable games. The margins are simply too thin at this point.
- Jeremy Lin lead the bench with 14 points on 4-6 shooting and 6-6 from the free throw line in just 20 minutes. That's efficient offense.
- Courtney Lee had another solid game, finishing with nine points, three assists, and three rebounds. He hasn't had a significant offensive impact -- instead it's been his defense that's stood out the most.
- Zeller's 9-10 from the free throw was impressive, but what's more impressive was that he even attempted 10 free throws given that his season average is only 3.4. With a free throw percentage of 73.4 percent, Zeller's offensive numbers could jump a bit more if he was able to get to the line more often, as he did tonight.