Charlotte Hornets

With a hat tip to Glen Rice and Dell Curry, this Hornets team can really shoot

If the Charlotte Hornets somehow manage to maintain their 41.9 percent shooting from 3-point range, it would be terrific.

It wouldn’t, however, be a franchise record.

The 1996-97 Hornets — who went 54-28 — finished that season shooting 42.8 from 3. That team had magnificent jump-shooting with Glen Rice, Dell Curry, Ricky Pierce, Tony Delk and Scott Burrell.

But this version is pretty good, too, with the emergence of Devonte Graham and rookie P.J. Washington. Entering Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, those two have combined to make 54 of 108 3s (50 percent). That has pushed the Hornets into the best 3-point percentage in the NBA.

Is this sustainable? Maybe not staying No. 1 in the stat, but coach James Borrego is confident good perimeter shooting will continue.

“I thought we could shoot the ball, and I like our guys’ mentality right now,” Borrego said. “They know we want to get a lot of attempts up (from 3), and they’re confident.”

The Hornets are fourth in 3s made (15 per game) and 11th in attempts (35.8). That’s about two more attempts per game than last season. Not a big difference, but that emphasis — take a vast majority of shots either at the rim or from 3 — was drilled into the players over the summer.

Borrego likes that the increased emphasis to look for 3s hasn’t so far made for bad shot selection.

“We’re taking (some) high-quality, uncontested 3s, more than I expected,” Borrego said. “A lot of that is produced off our pace; how we’re getting to the rim.

“We know defenses are going to pick up more on our 3-balls,” Borrego said, noting that as teams get out more on shooters there will be driving opportunities, and then chances to feed other shooters on the backside of the defense.

Monk flip

After back-to-back games when he didn’t score and went 0-of-7 from the field, shooting guard Malik Monk scored 15 and 18 points in his past two games, shooting a combined 14-of-24 from the field against the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings.

Monk said following the Clippers game he’d been “passive” and had to remind himself to be always conscious of attacking. Borrego likes the uptick, which he said is not just about scoring:

“He’s a guy who gives us instant offense,” Borrego said. “He looks very composed right now, the way he’s playing with his teammates. He’s not forcing it. And I give him a lot of credit at the defensive end; he is locked in to his assignments.”

Turnovers, box-outs

If the Hornets ever figure out this season how to retain the ball and box out on the defensive boards, they’d be pretty good.

Through Thursday’s games, the Hornets gave up the most points off turnovers (24.8 per game) and opponent second-chance points (18.6). Second-chance points are scoring resulting from an offensive rebound.

“We’re hurting ourselves. When we turn it over, it’s going down for easy stuff,” Borrego said. “When our half-court defense is set, we’ve actually had a decent chance to guard teams. If we can clean up (turnovers leading to easy baskets) and second-chance points, we’ll be in good shape.”

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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