Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets break losing streak with 107-84 rout of Atlanta Hawks

Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker, right, scores during Wednesday night's game at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker, right, scores during Wednesday night's game at Time Warner Cable Arena. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

If the Charlotte Hornets were to break this season-worst losing streak, it didn’t seem likely to happen against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks had won 15 of the last 18 meetings and many of those were blowouts. But the Hornets built a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter for a runaway 107-84 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Coach Steve Clifford was able to empty his bench with about five minutes left as the Hornets improved to 18-20. The Hornets had played some terrible defense in the losing streak. The Hawks are one of the best all-around shooting teams in the NBA, but that didn’t show Wednesday.

Hornets point guard Kemba Walker finished with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. The Hawks (23-16) got 20 points from forward Paul Millsap.

Three who mattered

Walker: This was his 14th game this season with 20 or more points.

Cody Zeller: He looks so comfortable and confident these days at center.

Jeremy Lin: His trips to the foul line were key in the first half.

Observations

▪  Jeremy Lamb seems to be playing dramatically better since coach Steve Clifford benched him in the second half of the loss in Phoenix. In particular, Lamb has improved his rebounding.

▪  The Hornets finally got relatively healthy Wednesday. Other than the two long-term injuries (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s shoulder and Al Jefferson’s knee) everyone was available.

▪  Lots of unsold seats for the Hornets’ first home game following a four-game West Coast trip.

▪  The Hornets had sold out their previous five games at Time Warner Cable Arena.

▪  Coach Steve Clifford said pre-game there’s no change yet in Kidd-Gilchrist’s status. The next step would be getting cleared for contact in practice.

Worth mentioning

▪  Clearly Nic Batum was rusty after missing four of the last five games with a sprained toe. It took him 17 minutes to score a basket.

▪  Zeller seems more comfortable at center than he did playing mostly power forward.

▪  Lamb suffered a sprain of his right great toe.

Report card

B+ OFFENSE: They didn’t shoot particularly well, but the Hornets kept getting to the foul line, the most efficient place to score.

B DEFENSE: They destroyed the Hawks on the boards. Atlanta helped the cause by missing many open shots

B COACHING: Considering how the Hawks have owned the Hornets in recent seasons, this was an impressive way to break a losing streak.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

 
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