The Charlotte Hornets kept their playoff hopes alive, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 113-101.
Without question, the Charlotte Hornets are already in the midst of playoff basketball, it’s do or die for the remaining six games of the season. The Hornets/Bobcats have never won in Oklahoma City since the Thunder moved from their west coast days in Seattle, the Hornets are 0-8 in Chesapeake arena. Charlotte came out determined to erase that goose egg and continue their push for the playoffs in a huge game in Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon.
The Hornets were one of two teams to hold Russell Westbrook under a triple double in his career heading into today, the other being Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately, that streak ended today, as Westbrook finished with 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The first quarter was opened up by a scant five point lead by the Thunder midway through the 1st quarter, but the Hornets would take the lead on a Frank Kaminsky three pointer and never trail again for the whole game. Kaminsky had a good game and finished with 18 points to lead the scoring off the bench.
The second quarter saw the Hornets extend their lead to thirteen late in the quarter when Kemba Walker hit a 20-foot jumper to put the Hornets lead at 57-44. Walker finished with 29 points to lead the Hornets. The end of the second quarter saw a bit of a bump in the plans for Charlotte, as the Thunder took a 10-2 run to the break to close the margin to five at 59-54 at the break. The Hornets bench was impressive in the quarter, helping Charlotte maintain their lead.
The second half started with the Hornets holding the Thunder scoreless for almost six minutes, until they scored with 6:22 left in the third. The Hornets pushed their lead out to 19 at the 4:20 mark of the quarter when Walker hit two free throws. The Hornets would finish at eighty-eight percent from the free-throw line at 28-32, free throws were a big key in the win today.
The Thunder seemed like they wouldn’t go away though, as they would cut the lead down to 14 at the end of the quarter. Westbrook seemed to be the only Thunder player on the court at times, as he tried to pull the Thunder back by himself, scoring 13 straight points midway in the third quarter.
With the thought of another push by Westbrook and the Thunder, it looked like the Hornets were going to have to withstand a late run to win. It came with 4:37 left in the game and the Thunder erased a 21 point deficit to cut the lead to 11. Fortunately, that would be as close as the Thunder would get and the Hornets would hold on for a 113-101 victory. Jeremy Lamb had some big buckets in the fourth quarter and Kemba seemingly iced the game with a three at the 2:42 mark.
A huge win for the Hornets who are fighting for their playoff lives, the win tonight could leave them just a game out of the eighth and final playoff spot at the end of the night. The Bulls, Pacers and Heat are all in action tonight, lets hope for good results. Great game overall from this Hornets squad today.