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Hornets defeat Heat in opening Summer League game

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Graham led the team with a double-double.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Summer League isn’t always the prettiest of spectacles. The players have only practiced together for a few days, and teams on the younger and inexperienced side tend to struggle, particularly in the early portions of games.

That wasn’t an issue for the Charlotte Hornets, who jumped out to an early double-digit lead against the Miami Heat and held on to win 74-67. Treveon Graham lead the team with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Okaro White scored a game high 20 points for the Heat.

The advantage for Charlotte was undoubtedly their experience. Three starters played for the Hornets last season, and unsurprisingly, were the team’s three leading scorers. It’s only game one, so it isn’t time to make conclusions, but here’s what I noticed today:

The “veterans” made an impact

Graham, Johnny O’Bryant III, and Briante Weber aren’t veterans to the NBA, but have been through the Summer League circuit before. Add in the small bit of experience they gained with the senior team last season, and they entered Saturday’s game with essentially the most experience of anyone on the floor.

It showed, because they were Charlotte’s top three scorers, and the only ones to score in double-digits.

Graham led the way, earning a double-double of points and rebounds. He often scored by muscling his way to the basket, which wasn’t pretty, but effective more often than not. But his activeness on both ends stood out most. Diving for 50-50 balls, disrupting passes, and crashing the offensive glass, Graham was everywhere, and the effort was contagious, as the rest of the roster appeared more dialed in, particularly in the first half.

Weber was also solid on the defensive end, and came away with four steals to show for it. He didn’t shoot particularly well (just 5-13 for the game), but attacked the hoop well and knocked down a 3-pointer, highlighted below:

O’Bryant looked to show off his range, but hit just 1-5 from beyond the arc. But he had a nice spell in the first quarter where he hit an open 3 off a pick-and-pop, then followed it up with a strong finish at the rim the next possession down.

Bacon showed a bit of everything

Dwayne Bacon opened the game knocking down a pull-up jumper in the game’s first possession, but had a mostly quiet game, finishing with 9 points. That said, he showed highlights of his skill set, knocking down a nice pull up 3-pointer on a second chance opportunity, providing a nice behind the back pass to Anthony Gill on a fast break, and capping off the game with a open slam dunk:

It wasn’t a stand out first game, but it was mostly mistake free, and a solid one to build off of.

More needs to be seen from the rest of the roster

Gill looked comfortable out there and made a nice back door pass to Kris Joseph, while Mangok Mathiang was active on the offensive glass, finishing with five rebounds on that end. But beyond them, and a couple highlights from Rasheed Sulaimon, there wasn’t a lot to take away from the invitees.

Overall, it was a fairly physical game, and Charlotte won largely thanks to their effort and attention to detail.

The win gives them six points in the Orlando Summer League standings. The team will play again tomorrow at 5 p.m. against the Indiana Pacers.