Regardless of any of the stats coming out of Wednesday night, the Hornets won because of where they played.
Coming off a west coast road trip in which they went 0-5 this was the team’s first game back home, and against one of the most offensively dangerous backcourts in the league, and yet Charlotte was able to hold them to just 85 points — the first time they had managed to hold a team under 100 in nine games (including the Sixers).
As Shaq and Kenny have famously talked about on TNT’s Inside the NBA for years now, the big advantage of playing at home is not necessarily that your stars perform better. Of course, Kemba Walker had another masterful outing tonight, but this is something Kemba’s been doing all year, regardless of where the team happens to be playing that night. It’s the role players and bench players (the “others” as they TNT crew likes to say) that see the real fluctuation in performance when the team goes on the road or come back home. This game in particular we were able to see something of a resurgence from Roy Hibbert, clutch-ish fourth quarter play from Frank Kaminsky, and more dependable shooting from Marco Belinelli — all of which finished in double digits. In the five game road trip, each only had one game a piece where they broke the double digit mark.
The bench was a big question to start the season and had come alive a bit with the improved play of Jeremy Lamb, and solid contributions from both Frank and Marco. However, the team needs more consistency from this unit down the stretch if they hope to be a threat come postseason play.
Defensively was where the Hornets were really able to get back on track. Getting torched out west, they were able to hold a dynamic, perimeter oriented team to under 90 points, including just twenty five percent from beyond the arc. And though the starters outside of Nic Batum and Kemba Walker were quiet offensively, they really helped set the tone on defense, allowing the more offensively oriented bench players to come in and do their thing.
With only one star player, the Hornets need to continue to do the little things to be competitive. This win was a relief more than anything, and hopefully the team can use this as a confidence builder to get back on track.