Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets take big lead, hold off Indiana Pacers

Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams drives past Indiana Pacers Thaddeus Young (21) and Jeff Teague during the first half of Monday night’s game in Charlotte.
Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams drives past Indiana Pacers Thaddeus Young (21) and Jeff Teague during the first half of Monday night’s game in Charlotte. AP

For a moment Monday night, it looked as if the Charlotte Hornets were on the verge of dropping another game in which they led by double digits.

Charlotte, however, responded during the fourth quarter of a 100-88 victory against the Indiana Pacers to win for the fourth time in its past six games, and back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 18-21.

The Hornets (28-35) took control during the first quarter, which they finished on an 18-5 run. Nic Batum scored 14 of his 21 points during that stretch for his most points in any first quarter this season.

Charlotte used that run to extend its lead to 24 points in the first half, and it entered halftime with a 58-37 lead. That, however, didn’t deter the Pacers.

Indiana opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run and ultimately cut the Hornets’ lead to eight points by the end of the period. But after the Pacers made it a seven-point game in the fourth, Charlotte wouldn’t let them get any closer.

Kemba Walker made a 3-pointer with about four minutes remaining to give the Hornets a 94-79 lead, and they maintained a double-digit edge for the remainder of the game.

Three who mattered

Walker: He led the Hornets with 28 points, including nine crucial ones in the fourth quarter.

Batum: He has scored 20 or more points in three of his past five games. Batum reached the 20-point threshold just once in his previous 15 games.

Paul George: Foul trouble limited him to four points in the first quarter, but he scored 32 the rest of the way for a game-high 36 for the Pacers.

Observations

▪  Cody Zeller started back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 21 and 23. He suffered a right quadricep contusion during the latter. That injury and the soreness that followed forced him to miss 13 games.

▪  The Hornets went 11-for-31 on 3-pointers and have made 10 or more 3s in six straight games. That’s the longest such stretch of the season.

▪  The Pacers’ 37 first-half points matched the fewest allowed by Charlotte in any first half this season. The Hornets also yielded 37 points in the first half against the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 7.

▪  During the third quarter, when Indiana mounted its comeback attempt, Charlotte shot 28.6 percent (6-for-21).

Worth mentioning

▪  After spraining his left shoulder Thursday against the Phoenix Suns, Frank Kaminsky sat out for the second straight game. “He’s good,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s been in doing his treatment and everything. He does treatment and plays video games.”

▪  The Pacers were without Lavoy Allen, who missed his second straight game because of a sore left knee.

▪  Former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty, now a scout for the Pacers, attended the game.

They said it

“I think three weeks ago we’re going to lose that game. And now we came back, showed our composure and won by (12), so that’s a good job from us.” – Batum.

“It’s everybody making a conscious effort to run back. That’s a huge part of winning is running back and taking away easy buckets, so taking those away tonight was huge for us.” – Jeremy Lamb on holding the Pacers to four fast-break points.

“They set the tone obviously tonight and they have been. Nic was aggressive and I felt like they set the tone for the whole game. That’s how it’s going to have to be. The ball’s going to be in their hands and if we’re going to make a run here, it’s going to have to start with those two guys.” — Clifford on Batum and Walker.

Report card

A OFFENSE: Charlotte looks its best when Batum and Walker click like they did Monday night.

B+ DEFENSE: Outside of the third quarter, when Indiana shot 57.1 percent, the Hornets made things difficult for the Pacers’ offense.

A- COACHING: Team played with a lot of intensity for most of the night and bounced back nicely after the Pacers’ run.

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