The Charlotte Hornets won against the Utah Jazz last night 104 to 98. They take on the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers this weekend.
Raise your hand if you thought the Charlotte Hornets would be the top team in the East through seven games…Put your hands down, it’s not polite to lie. I’m not sure if anyone believed we would be off to the best start in franchise history this year. However, that’s where we find ourselves now.
The Hornets relied heavily on their bench to keep them in the game and the starters were able to pull away in the fourth. Now they are sitting atop of the Eastern Conference with the defending champions also known as the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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Takeaways from the game:
The Hornets got off to a great start. They immediately forced two Utah Jazz turnovers and Kemba Walker got cooking with a few of his iconic stepbacks. However, they fell into a lull and allowed for the Jazz to take the lead. Gordon Hayward led the charge (29 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and they led by as many as 10 points in the first half. It took a solid outing from Bench Force One to keep the lead close and once the 4th quarter started, Kemba and the starters were able to take care of the rest.
The Jazz is an excellent defensive team and the Rudy Gobert aka “The Stifle Tower” was able to limit both Kemba’s and MKG’s drives to the basket. Kemba was able to adjust coming out of halftime, but MKG continued to struggle finishing at the rim in this one. The Hornets had to rely on their bench to take advantage of the time that Gobert was not on the court.
Those that Mattered:
Bench Force One
There was a lot of talk from analysts worried that the hornets would not be able to replace Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin, and Courtney Lee. The evolution of Frank Kaminsky and shooting touch of Marco Belinelli are quickly making people change their minds. Frank Kaminsky put up a solid 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in the game. He played decent defense and even got the better of Trey Lyles with a series of post moves that would make Big Al jealous.
Marco Belinelli continued his solid play off the bench and put up 13 points (71% shooting). Marco also had a good defensive outing. He seemed to take exception to an elbow in the chest by Hood and continued to dog him for the rest of the game. Most importantly is that he did not back off from the challenge. His shots came within the flow of the game. He also moved well off the ball which opened up the floor to easy buckets like this one:
Not all heroes wear capes. That saying couldn’t be more true when considering Spencer Hawes last night. He had 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists. His stats don’t really stand out, but there was a period in the 2nd quarter when he was single handily keeping the Hornets in the game. There was one run where he had nine points in 11 minutes.
He struggled for most of the first half but was able to make adjustments after halftime. He had 21 points, five rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Kemba was a blur during the second half. He would race up the court and drop dimes such as this one: