Good as the Charlotte Hornets’ 7-3 start was, there was a hole in the resume: No victories over elite Eastern Conference teams.
Check that box, after the Hornets’ 100-96 comeback victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Spectrum Center.
Nic Batum found Cody Zeller for a dunk in the last minute to give the Hornets a cushion down the stretch. Batum finished the game with a season-high 24 points. Zeller matched a career-high with 23 points.
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The Hornets are on a two-game winning streak after losing back-to-back games to the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Hawks broke a six-game winning streak, falling to 9-3. Atlanta forward Paul Millsap finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Three who mattered
Nic Batum: He was aggressive in finding shots in an 18-point first half.
Paul Millsap: Atlanta’s power forward was the best player on the court for most of this game.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: His defense neutralized Hawks ace shooter Kyle Korver most of this game.
▪ The Hornets sent Aaron Harrison and Christian Wood on a Development League assignment with the Greensboro Swarm. The plan is for them to play three Swarm games, then rejoin the Hornets before Wednesday’s home game versus the San Antonio Spurs.
▪ For whatever reason, the Hornets have played their best basketball this season in the third quarter, where they outscore their opponents by 8.3 points per game.
▪ Kemba Walker reached 20 points for the 10th consecutive game.
▪ The Hornets hoped to get back guard-forward Jeremy Lamb from a hamstring injury Friday, but he had some soreness after practice Thursday.
▪ Nic Batum had a huge first half with 18 points, on 7-of-8 shooting, and five rebounds.
▪ Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing was back with the team after missing games in Cleveland and Minneapolis.
▪ Walker missed all seven of his shots from the field in the first half.
▪ Hawks center Dwight Howard was ejected in the second half for elbowing Cody Zeller.
B OFFENSE: Nic Batum and Cody Zeller carried the load in the first half with Kemba Walker struggling with his shot.
B+ DEFENSE: It improved dramatically in the fourth quarter.
B COACHING: The Hornets beat one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell