The Hornets were ready to play tonight. They jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead. They repeatedly attacked the basket on the offensive end and stifled the Wizards defensively. The Wizards turned the ball over six times in the opening frame. The Hornets turned that strong play into a 40-26 lead after one, with the bench doing a lot of the damage.
That continued into the second quarter, where Tony Parker opened things up with a personal 7-0 run. The Hornets built their lead as large as 21 points, but the Wizards would not go away quietly. They cut the Hornets lead down to five while Bradley Beal poured in bucket after bucket. He finished the first half with 23 points. Despite his strong play, the Hornets led 66-53 at the half after closing the quarter on an 8-0 run.
The Hornets started the second half much like the first. They jumped on the Wizards and forced a Scott Brooks timeout just over three minutes into the half. At that point, the Hornets led 79-60. Bismack Biyombo played well in the period, scoring six points and reeling in a couple offensive rebounds. Dwayne Bacon made an impact in the late stages of the quarter thanks in part to a 3-pointer as the clock ticked to zero. That bucket put the Hornets up 95-78 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets did what the Hornets do with leads in the fourth quarter- let it slip away. Thomas Bryant got three easy dunks and Troy Brown hit a couple 3-pointers to whittle the Hornets lead down to ten, forcing a James Borrego timeout. A couple more buckets out of the timeout cut the lead down to six before a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer stopped the bleeding. Jeremy Lamb piled on with a hum deedly dee 3-pointer of his own to put the Hornets back up 12 with 3:26 to go.
Marvin Williams showed how much this game means to the Hornets on one late defensive possession. He dove for a loose ball, but was unable to recover it. He got back on his feet, and hit the floor again when Bradley Beal exposed the ball. It resulted in a jump ball.
Unfortunately that jump ball was won by the Wizards and marked the beginning of seven straight points for the Wizards. That run cut the Hornets lead back down to five, but Jeremy Lamb hit a floater and was granted a free throw on a questionable continuation foul call.
Frank Kaminsky missed a potential dagger 3-pointer with 40 seconds left, but Kemba Walker snared the offensive rebound and bled out enough clock to effectively seal the game.
This was one of the better games we’ve seen from the Hornets bench this season. Jeremy Lamb scored 18 points, Tony Parker 16, and Dwayne Bacon 13 off the pine. Parker and Bacon bridged the third and fourth quarter with strong play, which gave the Hornets enough of a buffer to withstand their usual fourth quarter cold spell. Jeremy Lamb closed the game and made some big plays down the stretch, including a big defensive rebound in traffic when the Wizards were making a final push.
The Hornets will look to carry this momentum into Sunday afternoon’s game against the Miami Heat.