That June trade for Nic Batum is looking better all the time.
The Charlotte Hornets got their first triple-double from Batum Wednesday in a 99-81 home victory over the Miami Heat. Batum finished the game with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Batum had four previous triple-doubles in the NBA from his time with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Hornets played fine defense Wednesday, holding the Heat to 54 points in the first three quarters, building a 26-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets are on a three-game winning streak. They improved to 13-8. The Heat fell to 12-8.
Three who mattered
Nic Batum: He had six assists in the first quarter alone. Filling up the box score.
Kemba Walker: Quick hands on defense and fearless drives to the rim were his game Wednesday.
Dwyane Wade: Often he seemed like the only Miami player with any real energy.
▪ With Al Jefferson serving a five-game suspension after he recovers from that calf injury, Cody Zeller is about to get a very long look at the center position.
▪ Hornets forward Marvin Williams left the game for the locker room briefly in the first half after being hit in the nose.
▪ The Heat’s 36 first-half points were the fewest Hornets have allowed in a half this season.
▪ The major difference when the Hornets built a 22-point lead was the 3-point line. The Hornets made 7-of-17 in the first half, the Heat 2-of-9.
▪ The Hornets have a challenging back-to-back coming up: Friday at Memphis followed by a home game against the Boston Celtics Saturday.
▪ Batum made multiple spectacular passes in the first half. Perhaps the best was a lob pass in transition for a Zeller dunk.
▪ This was a big night for Gastonia’s Hassan Whiteside, who missed the Heat’s trip to Charlotte last spring due to injury.
▪ Jefferson’s absence pushes Tyler Hansbrough into at least spot minutes in the rotation.
A OFFENSE: This was the Hornets’ ninth game this season with 10 or more 3-pointers. They had nine total games with 10 or more 3s last season.
A+ DEFENSE: Holding Miami to 36 first-half points was quite impressive.
A+ COACHING: It’s not easy surviving without your starting center. Hornets are 3-1 since Jefferson’s injury.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell