Just when it seemed like the Charlotte Hornets season was going to end in a slow, painful and disheartening fashion and that Kemba Walker and Co. were headed to the lottery-- a feeling that is all too familiar to this franchise--the Hornets got hot. Friday night marks the sixth win in the last eight games for Charlotte, as they beat the Denver Nuggets in a massive game for both teams, 122-114.
After a very bad defensive first quarter in which Charlotte allowed the Nuggets to shoot 54 percent and end the period on an 8-0 run, the Hornets trailed 32-24. Charlotte struggled on both sides of the ball in the quarter, and shot only 38 percent.
The second quarter was better on both ends for the Hornets, and by the half the game was tied at 56. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a solid first half-- and game in general, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds in the first half, eventually finishing the game with 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
In the third quarter, the offense of the Hornets was working pretty well, but the defense was simply atrocious. Denver lit up the Hornets from everywhere on the court, especially in the paint, and scored 38(!) points in the period.
While it was never more than an 11-point deficit for the Hornets, it still felt like the Nuggets had control of this game. The Hornets couldn’t stop them from getting into the lane, and they were getting it to pretty much wherever they wanted on the court. After three quarters, the Hornets trailed 94-86.
Whatever Steve Clifford said to this team before the fourth quarter must have been incredibly moving, because the Hornets came out absolutely blazing, and within minutes had taken the lead, along with all of the momentum.
Marco Belinelli hit back to back threes early in the quarter, and Spectrum Center was jumpin’. Frank Kaminsky had a sensational quarter as well, scoring 11 points in the final frame on 4-of-4 shooting, and 3-of-3 from deep. Charlotte outscored Denver 36-20 in the fourth.
Even if the Hornets don’t end up making the playoffs--they currently sit two games in back of Indiana for the eighth spot--flashes of great play like they have shown in this recent stretch are great to see as the season winds down.
Next up for Charlotte are the Oklahoma City Thunder and basketball freak-of-nature Russell Westbrook on Sunday.