Nicolas Batum did a little bit of everything Saturday to help the Charlotte Hornets rally from a big deficit and defeat the Washington Wizards.
Batum finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in a 108-104 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena. Washington led the Hornets by 19 in the second quarter, but a 24-4 run in the third pushed Charlotte into control.
Jeremy Lin sliced to the basket for a layup with 1:25 left to put the Hornets ahead 101-98, and after a Batum rebound at one end, Lin knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 104-100 with 29.3 seconds left. Batum corralled a rebound on Washington’s next miss, and the Hornets made just enough free throws to survive.
Kemba Walker had 23 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hornets (25-26). John Wall had 23 points and 10 assists for the Wizards (22-27), who fell two games behind the Hornets for ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
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Three who mattered
Nicolas Batum: One assist short of a triple-double, and the most impressive number might have been 44 minutes played on the second night of a back-to-back.
Marvin Williams: He didn’t have a big scoring night like he has regularly of late, but he had an efficient 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 10 rebounds, including a huge offensive board before Lin’s layup in the 47th minute.
Otto Porter: Carried Washington during the second quarter, where he scored 17 of his 20 points while Washington built the big lead.
▪ It looked like a second straight bad night for the Hornets’ bench, but Spencer Hawes also had a big fourth quarter with nine of his 14 points before Lin’s late-game heroics.
▪ The Hornets made their huge run in the third quarter, but Batum also had eight points as part of a 12-3 spurt to finish the first half to make a comeback more plausible.
▪ Porter started the second with four reserves for the Wizards, and got rolling quickly with back-to-back 3-pointers en route to the huge quarter.
▪ The Wizards opened a big lead in the second quarter partly due to the Hornets’ failure to convert layups. Jeremy Lamb missed one that he should of dunked, and there were four more after that as Washington’s lead ballooned.
▪ Tyler Zeller keyed an 8-0 run in the first quarter with two defensive plays that led to back-to-back dunks, then finished one himself on an impressive alley-oop from Batum later in the quarter.
▪ The Hornets dressed the same lineup for consecutive games. Considering the string of injuries in recent weeks, that is notable. “It will take a couple weeks,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of gaining some consistency. “Even when you don’t have injuries, it takes two-to-three weeks for guys to get into playing groups so they know what the play calls are for that group and who they’re playing with. Hopefully we can get healthy and get there.”
▪ Frank Kaminsky logged a lot of games the past two seasons for a college player (38 and 39), but Clifford noted the rookie is a “little tired” at this point. He looked great against the Cavaliers (15 points) on Wednesday and not so much two nights later against the Heat (no points). He played in his 50th game Saturday night, and had five points and three rebounds in 20 minutes.
▪ Clifford said the film session after the Friday loss was one of the most disappointing of the season. One noticeable difference in the rotation Saturday night? P.J. Hairston went from 13 minutes off the bench against the Heat to zero against the Wizards.
They said it
▪ “The way we started the game, down (19), I think we thought too much about last night. It was a tough one for us. We couldn’t be worse than we were in the second quarter so we just tried to use it as a wake-up call and show the way for the other guys.” – Batum, on the rally in the late second/third quarter.
▪ “I think you can tell by the way he’s moving. He’s getting separation again. His toe was obviously really bothering him, but … tonight he played great.” – Clifford on Batum being healthy again.
▪ “(Randy Wittman) is really, really a good coach and they do so much off John Wall’s pick-and-roll where they put different spacing I guess you could call it, so there’s a lot of things to do. We tried to do little things, but the difference in the second half was … they scored off our turnovers in the first half and beat us down the floor. Our transition defense was much better in the second half.” – Clifford, on the second-half defense.