After an ugly loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Charlotte Hornets bounced back in a big way, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-98. Charlotte got big-time contributions from their bench unit, including newcomer Isaiah Thomas.
The Hornets signed Thomas to a 10-day contract on Tuesday and he just joined the team at shootaround the morning before their tilt against the Cavs. And although James Borrego said after the game that they didn’t plan on playing him, he ended up chipping in with roughly 14 minutes off the bench.
When asked about what he brings to the team, Borrego had some high praise for the 33-year-old veteran.
“He’s a pro, he’s a vet. He’s been there before, and he looked the part. You can just see his basketball IQ, his savviness. He knows how to play. And I thought he was a big spark for us here tonight.”
Thomas notched 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals in his debut with the Hornets. And although he didn’t shoot the ball particularly efficiently, it was clear how comfortable and confident he was on the court.
Borrego wasn’t the only one to give Thomas his flowers after the game, either. Terry Rozier, who was teammates with Thomas on the Boston Celtics, commented on everything Thomas brings to the team. Especially the things he does away from the court.
“It ain’t just what he does on the court. It’s his leadership, him being a vet, his voice in the huddles, in the locker room, already making an impact. It’s just good for us to have guys like him around that have been around and been to the playoffs and know what it takes.”
And although the off-the-court impact is crucial, Rozier had some high praise for Thomas’ on-the-court play as well. Despite Thomas not being able to hold down an NBA job in recent years, Rozier still thinks very highly of his former teammate.
“On the court, it’s night and day. I’ve watched IT for two, three seasons and he never ceases to amaze me. He can put the ball in the basket any type of way.”
As mentioned, Thomas’ contract is just a 10-day, so that will allow him to be with the team for their next three games (including a contest against the Celtics). If they want to keep him past that, they’ll have to lob him another 10-day or sign him for the remainder of the season.
Charlotte’s next game will be on Saturday when they return home to take on the San Antonio Spurs at 7:00 p.m.