San Antonio - The Charlotte Hornets got off to a hot start, outscoring the San Antonio Spurs 50-47 in the first half. The shots were falling (48% from the field) and the defense was outstanding. The Hornets took away the inside game, and forced the Spurs to shoot from the perimeter.
You know things are clicking for the Hornets when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has four 19 foot jumpers hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Kemba Walker was also effective from the field, and the second unit went toe to toe with the Spurs starters for a small amount of the first half.
The second half could not have been more different. The starters held their own, but things got out of control when coach Steve Clifford went to his second unit at the end of the third period. The game went from a back and forth affair to a blowout rather quickly. The Spurs got hot from beyond the arch and bullied the Hornets in the paint.
The Hornets managed to score just 14 points in the third quarter.
Clifford elected to go to the starters earlier in the fourth than usual, but it was too late. The Spurs had taken total control of the game. Thanks to the play of Davis Bertans and Dewayne Dedmon, starters Paul Gasol and Lamarcus Aldridge sat on the bench for much of the final frame. It wasn’t because the game was over, but because they had been outplayed.
Latvian rookie Davis Bertans scored a career high 21 points on just six shots. Bertans set his previous career high of 15 against the Hornets back in November at the Spectrum Center. Many fans in the AT&T Center were surprised by Bertans performance, but for me it felt like deja vu.
In order to stay in the race for home court advantage in the playoffs, Hornets General Manager Rich Cho must trade for another scorer. The first unit continues to impress, and it managed to battle with the Spurs without Nic Batum. The Bench (Sessions, Belinelli, Graham, Kaminsky, Hibbert) really struggled on the offensive end tonight. They flat out looked confused towards the end of the third quarter.
The good news is that when Nic Batum is back the Hornets will have their top nine healthy for the first time in a couple of weeks. Even when he gets back, Charlotte will need more consistent play from its bench in order to make some noise in the eastern conference.
The Hornets will make the short trip to Houston tonight, where they will have two days off before facing the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. Gametime is set for 8:00 PM EST.
Editor-In-Chief of The Charlotte Sports Blog
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe