Charlotte Hornets

How the Hornets survived a rough night at home to top the Memphis Grizzlies

This game was a matter of survival and the Charlotte Hornets just barely did at home.

Trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Hornets held off a depleted Memphis Grizzlies team 100-92 at Spectrum Center Friday.

Hornets forward Marvin Williams hit a 3-pointer with just under 3 minutes left to tie the game at 90-90, then grabbed a rebound off a miss by the Grizzlies’ JaMychal Green. Williams followed that with another 3-pointer, off an assist from Kemba Walker (23 points), for the lead.

Lamb-Hornets-Grizzlies.JPG
Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb (3) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies guard Shelvin Mack in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond) Nell Redmond AP

On the ensuing Memphis possession, Hornets center Bismack Biyombo blocked Green at the rim. The Grizzlies’ Shelvin Mack fouled Biyombo, and he made one of two free throws to push Charlotte’s lead to four with 1 minute, 38 seconds left.

Again, Biyombo came up big defensively, blocking Mack’s drive. The Grizzlies retained possession, but center Marc Gasol missed a jump shot in the lane and Green was charged with a foul. Williams made both free throws with 1:08 left.

It was a particularly rough night for Hornets starting shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, who missed his first four shots and played only 14 minutes.

Three who mattered

Mack: He came up big for the Grizzlies (19 points) in just his third start this season.

Walker: His 36th game this season of 20 or more points

Tony Parker: He saved them in the first half, when just about every Hornet struggled.

Observations

▪ Hornets center Cody Zeller is “close” to a return from a broken right hand, coach James Borrego said pre-game. If Zeller could play again before the mid-February All-Star break, it would be a nice boost.

▪ Gasol is available in trade, and he has a lot of connections to the Hornets. He’s close with fellow Spaniard Willy Hernangomez and Tony Parker. Question would be whether he has enough residual value for the Hornets to give up something significant before the Feb. 7 trade deadline.

▪ Parker missed the game in Boston Wednesday with a sore right ankle, but he sure was sharp Friday in the first half as the driving force in making up a deficit as large as 13 points. Parker made all five of his first-half shots for 13 points.

▪ Hornets starting shooting guard Jeremy Lamb played just five minutes in the first half, missing all four of his shots.

▪ How bad were the Hornets’ starters in the first half: Four of the five - Lamb, Nic Batum, Williams and Biyombo - shot a combined 1-of-12 from the field.

Worth mentioning

▪ Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was an assistant on those first couple of Bobcats teams, working for his father, Bernie, the first head coach and general manager.

▪ The Grizzlies played without point guard Mike Conley, who has soreness in his left knee.

▪ Friday and Saturday are back-to-back games for the Hornets, but they are both at home (Saturday against the Chicago Bulls), which takes the biggest burden out of playing on consecutive nights: travel in-between.

They said it

“We didn’t just survive (January), we got better. I think we’re in a good place here as we make this stretch run into the All-Star break.” – Hornets coach James Borrego on a month in which they played 10 of 14 on the road and went 6-8.

Report card

D OFFENSE: It’s not often the Hornets are this unproductive offensively. They totaled just 15 assists, tying a season low.

C- DEFENSE: It felt like so many of the Grizzlies’ shots were right at the rim.

C- COACHING: This is a rough patch in the schedule with three games in four nights. They narrowly got by.

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell

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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