Charlotte Hornets

Old friends catch up, but Suns never do as Charlotte Hornets hold off Phoenix, 120-106

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker, right, drives against Charlotte Hornets' Cody Zeller, left, in the first half of Sunday’s game. The Hornets defense held Devin Booker to 47 fewer points than he scored Friday against Celtics.
Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker, right, drives against Charlotte Hornets' Cody Zeller, left, in the first half of Sunday’s game. The Hornets defense held Devin Booker to 47 fewer points than he scored Friday against Celtics. AP

Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson and Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams were teammates on the Utah Jazz from 2012-13.

They remain friends and Watson remembers that time fondly.

“Marv, he’s like my brother,” Watson said Sunday before the Suns and Hornets played at Spectrum Center. “He’s a good person, high-character. Plays the right way, cares. Really good with teammates. Just being in the locker room with him, (I have) great memories. We don’t hang out, obviously because we’re on different coasts, but every chance we get we catch up. Old soul, young heart. He’s a great person.”

Watson probably wasn’t feeling quite so friendly toward Williams later, not after Williams opened the game by making 4-of-5 3-pointers, jump-starting the Hornets to a 120-106 victory against Watson’s struggling Suns.

Phoenix made a game of it for a while in the fourth quarter, going on an 11-0 run to cut Charlotte’s lead to 105-101 on a T.J. Warren layup. But the Hornets outscored the Suns 14-5 from there.

The victory was the fourth in five games for the Hornets (33-40), who remain in 11th place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. But they pulled to within two games of eighth-place Miami after the Heat lost 112-108 against the Boston Celtics later Sunday. The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons are sandwiched between Miami and Charlotte in ninth and 10th place, respectively.

Charlotte jumped all over the Suns (22-52), who were playing the fifth of a six-game road trip. Phoenix has lost all five by an average of 14.8 points.

The Hornets got off to a scorching start, thanks mostly to Williams. He hit his first three 3-pointers as Charlotte led 17-1. The Suns didn’t score a basket until point guard Tyler Ulis hit a jumper with 8 minutes, 6 seconds left in the first quarter.

Three who mattered

Marvin Williams: Helped the Hornets get off to a fast start, going 4-of-5 from 3-point range, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.

Kemba Walker: Has been playing well in the first half of games recently, had 16 against the Suns by halftime and finished with 31.

Devin Booker: After scoring 70 against Boston on Friday, Suns guard didn’t get his first basket until 10 minutes in. Finished with 23.

Observations

▪  Here’s how well things went for the Hornets in the first quarter: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, trying to keep the ball alive on the boards, saw it go through the hoop rather back to him.

▪ The Suns’ bench players outplayed the Hornets’ in a Phoenix victory on March 2. The Suns’ bench was better again Sunday, outscoring the Hornets’ 34-20. Frank Kaminsky struggled with his shot again for Charlotte, making just 3-of-11 shots for 10 points, going with seven rebounds.

Worth mentioning

▪  The Suns had trouble hanging on to the ball and the Hornets totally took advantage, scoring 21 points on 12 turnovers.

▪ If the Suns seemed a sleepy at the start of the game, it’s because their body clocks might have been on 10 a.m. Phoenix time.

▪ Booker’s 70 points against the Celtics included 20 made free throws in the second half, tying Hornets owner Michael Jordan’s NBA record.

They said it

“They have some scorers. Everybody knows how Devin (Booker) can get. We all saw the 70-point game he had.” – Walker.

“Everybody always talks about the NBA being a fourth-quarter league ... it’s anything but. It’s usually a first-quarter league. Playing from ahead is always a big advantage.” – Hornets coach Steve Clifford.

“Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) is a really good defender and he was really active. The bigs were really active on screens.” – Booker, on how the Hornets defended him.

Report card

B OFFENSE: Came out fast and that was enough – barely.

C DEFENSE: Held Devin Booker to 47 fewer points than he scored Friday against Celtics, but Suns shot themselves back into game late.

A COACHING: Had team ready to play at early tip time.

David Scott: 704-358-5889, @davidscott14

Hornets 120, Suns 106

PHOENIX (106)—Warren 9-16 3-3 21, Chriss 5-11 2-4 13, Len 3-5 2-2 8, Ulis 7-17 1-2 16, Booker 7-17 7-7 23, Eddie 0-0 0-0 0, Dudley 4-6 2-2 12, Jones 1-2 0-0 2, A.Williams 5-7 1-2 11. Totals 41-81 18-22 106.

CHARLOTTE (120)—Kidd-Gilchrist 7-11 0-0 14, M.Williams 6-8 4-4 21, Zeller 6-9 4-5 16, Walker 10-18 7-7 31, Batum 6-15 3-4 18, Kaminsky 3-11 2-2 10, Weber 0-2 0-0 0, Belinelli 3-7 2-2 8, Lamb 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 42-87 22-24 120.

Phoenix

18

29

33

26

106

Charlotte

38

31

29

22

120

3-Point Goals—Phoenix 6-16 (Dudley 2-3, Booker 2-5, Ulis 1-3, Chriss 1-5), Charlotte 14-30 (M.Williams 5-6, Walker 4-9, Batum 3-8, Kaminsky 2-4, Belinelli 0-1, Lamb 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Phoenix 39 (A.Williams 11), Charlotte 41 (Kaminsky, Zeller, M.Williams 7). Assists—Phoenix 25 (Ulis 9), Charlotte 29 (Batum 10). Total Fouls—Phoenix 17, Charlotte 14. A—17,292 (19,077).

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