Once again Charlotte was without Cody Zeller with a knee injury and Nicolas Batum with an elbow injury. The good news was the Hornets got Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky back from injury. Each played a factor in the win. Lamb had 14 points and was a team-best +22 in plus/minus, while Kaminsky finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
It was a total team effort for the Hornets. Six Hornets were in double figures, including all five starters. Dwight Howard led the way with 23 points including several impressive finishes around the basket. Marvin Williams hit four 3’s on the way to 18 points, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was 8-for-9 from the field with 17 points. Kemba Walker had 19 points himself, and also took advantage of the extra attention by dishing out nine assists.
The bench struggled with offense with the exception of one player. Treveon Graham stole the show with 12 points including three 3-pointers and an And-1 3. During a mostly dark season, Graham has continued to be a bright spot.
Charlotte's defense was also solid. They only allowed 99 points on 41 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers. The Hornets also won the rebounding battle 41-39 and shot 53 percent from the field.
Once again the Hornets were coaches by Stephen Silas, as Steve Clifford is still out with an illness. Silas must be happy with the Hornets ball movement tonight. The Hornets had 22 assists tonight, which led to 13 made 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting.
Russell Westbrook led the way for the Thunder with 30 points, Paul George had 20 points, but Carmelo Anthony struggled with 11 points. Fellow starters Steven Adams and Alex Abrines had 12 and 11 points apiece. None of their bench players had more than five points. This loss drops them to 12-14 for the season, and only adds to their recent struggles.
Going forward, Charlotte will be without Zeller for six weeks, and Batum for indefinte amount of time. Charlotte can't afford many more injuries and need wins like this to build some confidence. Hopefully, a win like this can turn the season around when it seemed like it was about to explode. It won't be easy as the Hornets are at Houston on Wednesday.
The playoffs could still be within reach for Charlotte as there is a lot of basketball left to be played. Charlotte just needs to play better. Tonight was a good start.