Charlotte Hornets

This time Charlotte Hornets survive a close one, beat Milwaukee Bucks

Charlotte Hornets coach on injuries

Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego on managing the returns on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Tony Parker from injury.
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Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego on managing the returns on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Tony Parker from injury.

The Charlotte Hornets got a stop on the Milwaukee Bucks’ final possession, forcing point guard Eric Bledsoe to heave a 32-foot miss at the buzzer, for a 110-107 victory at Spectrum Center.

Kemba Walker made two free throws with 7.1 seconds left to make the Hornets’ lead 3. Walker finished with 21 points, matching fellow guard Jeremy Lamb’s total.

The Hornets entered this game 1-7 this season in games decided by four points or less. They were also coming off a terrible defensive performance Sunday, giving up 124 points to the Atlanta Hawks, who broke a 10-game losing streak by topping the Hornets.

The Hornets, who had lost two straight, improved to 10-10. The Bucks fell to 14-6.

The Hornets played strong defense throughout the last three quarters, holding the Bucks to 41 percent shooting from the field. Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo had a near-triple double of 20 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, but only one other Buck, Bledsoe (17 points off 13 shots) wasn’t well contained.

Three who mattered

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: This game was a reminder how important he is to this team’s defense.

Lamb: This was his sixth game of 18 or more points in the last seven.

Bledsoe: He outplayed Kemba Walker, which doesn’t happen for many point guards this season.

Observations

The Hornets’ defensive flaws in Sunday’s loss in Atlanta were centered in the lane, where the Hawks scored 58 points. Early Monday, the Bucks did their damage at the 3-point line. They made eight of their first 11 3s, leading by as much as 14 early.

Kidd-Gilchrist had a spectacular block of the Bucks’ Khris Middleton in the second quarter, from behind in transition.

The Hornets’ team defense on Antetokounmpo opened up some Bucks 3s early, but this looked far better coordinated than the defense the Hornets played Sunday in Atlanta.

The Hornets play 11 more home games between now and New Year’s Day. It could be crucial to their playoff chances they optimize that because January looks brutal schedule-wise.

For all the change in the Hornets’ rotation this season under coach James Borrego, the constant has been the starters; the same five have started every game. It’s been the mix of reserves that has constantly shifted.

Worth mentioning

The Hornets got back injured veterans Kidd-Gilchrist and Tony Parker. Kidd-Gilchrist missed six games with a sprained ankle. Parker didn’t play in the last two games with a rib contusion.

With Kidd-Gilchrist back, it appeared that pushed Dwayne Bacon to the fringe of the playing rotation.

Parker suffered some left groin tightness during the first half, but was treated and returned to the bench, available to play.

They said it

“There’s a pride about his defense that we all feed off of.” – Borrego pre-game on what they missed in Kidd-Gilchrist’s absence.

“If and when he’s making those — which he shoots at a high volume — he’s got all the game.” – Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer on the difficulty guarding Walker when he is making 3s.

Report card

B OFFENSE: Good ball-distribution and minimal turnovers.

B+ DEFENSE: The contrast was dramatic from the awful way they guarded the Hawks.

A COACHING: Few things tougher than flying home from a loss, knowing a top team is back in Charlotte for an off night, waiting to play you. Borrego navigated that well.



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