This was more like it.
The Charlotte Hornets lost a different way in each of their first three games, but that still added up to 0-3 with a three-game Western Conference trip pending. Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls needed to be a rallying point, and certainly it was, as the Hornets drilled the Bulls, 130-105.
A team that averaged just 93 points in the first three games hit 69 at halftime. The Hornets continuously worked the ball into the lane, either with post-ups by Al Jefferson or drives by a variety of guards. That opened space outside the 3-point line, where the Hornets made 14 of their first 22 attempts.
The Hornets leave Wednesday for a trip to Dallas, San Antonio and Minneapolis feeling much better about themselves.
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Three who mattered
Nic Batum: This is how they envisioned his offensive role – a combination of 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Al Jefferson: In limited minutes (he had first-half foul trouble) Jefferson made seven of 12 from the field for 14 points
Jeremy Lamb: He made eight of his first nine shots one day after signing a three-year, $21 million contract extension.
▪ After a dehydration concern Monday, power forward Cody Zeller was cleared to play Tuesday following a short pregame workout. Zeller later had to leave the game after taking an elbow to the face from the Bulls’ Joakim Noah. Zeller needed eight stitches to his forehead to close the wound.
▪ Hornets coach Steve Clifford was asked by Chicago media before the game about how his close friend, former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, was doing. Clifford said Thibodeau called him Tuesday with 37 suggestions, so he’s definitely watching Hornets games.
▪ Through the first three games, the Hornets averaged 10.7 made 3s, second only to the Golden State Warriors’ 11.5. That’s up from the Hornets’ 6.1 per game last season.
▪ The Hornets’ 69 points were most scored in a first half since a game against the Portland Trail Blazers in March 2014.
▪ The first-half ball movement was exceptional: Twenty-two of 25 baskets were assisted, and the Hornets committed only two turnovers.
▪ Prior to Tuesday, the Hornets had lost nine consecutive regular-season games stretching into the end of last season.
▪ The Hornets’ 100 points through three quarters were the most the Bulls have allowed in that span since 1990.
▪ The Hornets scored six more points through three quarters than they averaged for their first three games.
They said it
“I think one of our strengths is we have really smart players. In this league you can get better in a day.” – Hornets coach Steve Clifford.
“They had their way with us and we didn’ have any fight. There was no resolve with us because we didn’t go back at them and just accepted it tonight.” – Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg.
“We played with a purpose tonight. We wanted to start this game playing from ahead and we did that.” – Hornets center Al Jefferson.
A+ OFFENSE: Tremendous ball movement, limited turnovers and the sort of 3-point shooting the front office hoped for with the off-season moves.
B DEFENSE: Coach Steve Clifford felt rebounding would be the key statistic for this game. With eight minutes left, the Hornets had outrebounded the Bulls 42 to 27.
A COACHING: The Hornets started fast and never let up on a Bulls team that is skilled and deep.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell