Charlotte Hornets

Nic Batum leads Charlotte Hornets past Chicago Bulls, 102-96

Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum (5) shoots over Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic during the first half Saturday night in Chicago. Batum scored 24 points.
Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum (5) shoots over Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic during the first half Saturday night in Chicago. Batum scored 24 points. AP

Point guard Kemba Walker hit a 20-foot pull-up jump shot with 28.9 seconds left to push the Charlotte Hornets to a 102-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had missed a corner 3-pointer and Hornets forward Marvin Williams grabbed the rebound, setting up Walker’s jump shot over Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic.

After Walker’s shot Butler threw the ball away under Chicago’s basket. The Bulls sent Walker to the foul line, where he hit one of two free throws. Cody Zeller grabbed the rebound off Walker’s missed free throw to keep the possession alive.

This victory gave the Hornets a 2-1 advantage in the series with the Bulls. The final of four games will be Feb. 18 in Charlotte.

The Hornets return to Charlotte for home games Monday against the Detroit Pistons and Wednesday against the Miami Heat.

Three who mattered

Nic Batum: He completed a four-point play in the first half, extending his streak of games with a 3-pointer to 14 games. He finished with a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds, plus five assists.

Derrick Rose: The former NBA MVP had a strong shooting night, making eight of his first 13 attempts.

Cody Zeller: He played solid defense on Pau Gasol despite some foul trouble in the third quarter.

Observations

▪  The Hornets ask Batum to do a little of everything and lately he’s done it all. In the seven games leading up to Saturday in Chicago, Batum averaged 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, six assists and 1.6 steals.

▪  Starter P.J. Hairston played 11 first-half minutes without attempting a shot. He didn’t have a point, a rebound or an assist.

▪  Hornets reserve shooting guard Jeremy Lamb is 17th in the NBA in field-goal accuracy at 51.4 percent. Among NBA players with enough attempts to qualify in league rankings, only three guards have higher field-goal percentages: Tony Parker, Stephen Curry and Cory Joseph.

▪  For several seasons the Bobcats/Hornets were among the NBA teams that got their shots blocked the most. Not this season: Opponents average 4.5 blocks per game against the Hornets, tied for seventh-fewest.

▪  A little boy with a “Frank the Tank” sign and wearing a Wisconsin basketball T-shirt made it to the front row at United Center pre-game. Rookie Frank Kaminsky came over to give the kid a high-five.

Worth mentioning

▪  Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing missed his second consecutive game after a surgical procedure on his left knee.

▪  Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic was cleared in the NBA’s concussion protocal and started Saturday.

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Report card

B OFFENSE: Three-point shooting was poor in the second half, but they did a solid job of scoring in the lane without center Al Jefferson.

B DEFENSE: They didn’t allow the Bulls to dominate them in the rebounding.

B+ COACHING: The Hornets stayed within striking distance of beating the Bulls throughout and closed strong.

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

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