Kemba Walker scored 30 points for the fourth straight game, this time with 37 points, 7 assists, and nine 3-pointers made. Jeremy Lamb scored 24 points and tossed 7 assists of his own while Marvin Williams scored a season high 25 points. The trio combined to shoot 33/57 (58%) from the field and 16/31 (52%) from three.
The Hornets exploded in the first quarter. They led 23-13 before they missed their first shot; they connected on their first eight attempts. By the midway point of the quarter, the Hornets had connected on 10 of 12 shot attempts. On the other end of the court, the Hornets gave up an extraordinary amount of easy layups and dunks and didn’t do a particularly convincing job closing out on 3-point shooters. However, their scorching shooting was enough to carry them to a 46-31 lead after one quarter.
The 75% mark the Hornets shot in the first quarter was always going to come down, so the Hornets needed to tighten up the defense to keep their cushion. They didn’t do that. The Hawks started the quarter with a 7-2 run in the first two minutes. The Hornets responded and were able to build their lead up to 17 at one point, but the Hawks went on a 22-10 run from then until halftime. At the half the Hornets lead by just five despite shooting 62% from the field and 61% from three. Jeremy Lamb at 19 at the half and Marvin Williams had 15 with zero missed shots between them.
The Hornets gave up a couple easy buckets at the beginning of the third quarter and let the Hawks pull within two points. They went on a 20-7 run from that point, ending with three straight 3-pointers from Kemba Walker, and forced a Hawks timeout. Miles Bridges shined in the final minutes of the quarter. He finished an alley-oop from Devonte’ Graham, made a spinning layup, and made a pull-up jumper in a 90 second span. By the end of the third quarter, the Hornets had built their lead up to 20, 106-86.
The Hawks made a push to start the fourth, scoring nine of the quarter’s first 12 points. James Borrego called a timeout to regroup, but the Hawks kept pushing. The Hornets didn’t score for a 3 minute 47 second stretch, missing nine straight shots along the way. The Hawks got as close as eight points before Michael Kidd-Gilchrist found Marvin Williams for a layup in transition. That eight point margin was as close as they’d get. Walker scored eight points down the stretch to help put the game away.
It was a fabulous display of offense outside of that ice cold stretch in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Hornets shot nearly 55% from the field and made 19 3-pointers. 30 of the team’s 48 made baskets were assisted.
The defense was not nearly as good. The Hawks got a lot of easy dunks and layups, especially in the first half. The Hornets buckled down a bit better in the second half, but still had more lapses than you’d like to see.
At the end of the day, the Hornets got a win they needed to have. Up next is a visit to Indiana to take on a rolling Pacers team.