Charlotte Hornets

How solid defense at home gives Hornets their second straight victory

Since the Charlotte Hornets play next to no home games in January, Thursday felt important. The Hornets treated it that way.

Playing at Spectrum Center for the first time in seven games, the Hornets made up a 13-point first quarter deficit and controlled the Sacramento Kings the rest of the way, 114-95.

It was a strong night for the Hornets’ bench: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Miles Bridges scored 15 points each and two other reserves hit double figures. Point guard Kemba Walker led the Hornets in scoring with 23 points.

Charlotte Hornets’ Willy Hernangomez gestures after making a 3-point basket against the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton AP

The Kings, who beat the Hornets in Sacramento last week, got 24 points from shooting guard Buddy Hield.

The Hornets (21-23) play the Phoenix Suns at Spectrum Center Saturday before heading out on another multi-game road trip.

Three who mattered

Tony Parker: Played great in the 43-point second quarter.

Hield: What a terrific long-range shooter.

Kidd-Gilchrist: He got to the foul line seven times in the first three quarters, which is big in making him relevant offensively.


▪ Hornets center Cody Zeller, who suffered a fractured right hand Dec. 31, was cleared this week for some non-contact, on-court activity. It’s probably another month or more before Zeller can play again.

▪ North Carolina coach Roy Williams was at the game. Along with Hornets forward Marvin Williams, Roy Williams coached Kings forward Justin Jackson.

▪ Walker passed 11,000-career points with the 11 he scored the first half.

▪ You will seldom see a more offensively efficient quarter than the Hornets played in the second Thursday: 15-of-23 from the field for 43 points.

▪ The Kings really like to run, but the Hornets outscored them in fast-break points through the middle of the third quarter 12-2.

Worth mentioning

▪ Saturday is another Hornets classic night, with the pinstripes-and-pleats uniforms and the throwback court design. The team will honor former Hornet Glen Rice.

▪ Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly and former linebacker Thomas Davis attended the game on the front row at Spectrum Center.

▪ After a rough first five games of the road trip, Hornets rookie Miles Bridges has perked up offensively the last two games, in part by going to the rim more aggressively.

They said it

“The physicality, the disruption and the discipline we showed in that game are things we have to carry over to every single game..” – Hornets coach James Borrego on what he wants his team to draw from Monday’s road victory in San Antonio.

“If there is a silver lining, it’s those legs getting rest, those knees getting rest.” – Borrego on center Cody Zeller’s recovery process from a broken right hand.

Report card

B OFFENSE: The Hornets got back to being a team that lives at the foul line, which makes for far more efficient offense.

B+ DEFENSE: Kept any Kings starter but Hield from getting hot.

A COACHING: Borrego didn’t want Hornets getting complacent coming home after a long road trip. Despite a slow start offensively, the Hornets took control before halftime.

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell

Rick Bonnell is a sportswriter/columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He has been in Charlotte since 1988, when the NBA arrived, and has covered the Hornets continuously. A former president of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, Bonnell also writes occasionally on the NFL and college sports.
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