Kemba Walker is having a fantastic second half of the season for the Charlotte Hornets.
Point guard Walker finished Friday’s 108-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers with 33 points and 10 assists. The Hornets swept the Pacers in the season series 3-0 and are 33-28 one game into a seven-game homestand at Time Warner Cable Arena.
This is sure looking like a playoff team.
Small forward Nic Batum was nearly as dominant as Walker, finishing with 31 points, six rebounds and four assists. Batum had the game’s toughest defensive assignment, guarding Paul George, who finished with 33 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
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The Hornets next play Monday at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Three who mattered
Walker: His confidence offensively looks to be at an all-time high.
Batum: Considering he had primary responsibility defensively for George, his impact offensively was impressive
George: He’s easily one of the 10 best players in the NBA.
▪ The Hornets entered Friday’s game averaging 104.3 ppg, at home. Never, since the NBA returned to Charlotte in 2004, has a Bobcats or Hornets team averaged over 100 points for a season at home.
▪ Hornets coach Steve Clifford said his team’s traits – low-turnover, low-foul and best in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage – are what generally wins in the playoffs.
▪ Shortly before tipoff, Pacers coach Frank Vogel changed his lineup, substituting Solomon Hill for rookie Myles Turner at power forward. Vogel had said earlier in the day how much Turner struggled in the first two meetings to guard Hornets forward Marvin Williams.
▪ Walker’s confidence has never been higher. When he pulled up for 3-pointers in the first half his body language shouted “this is going in.”
▪ The Hornets will be off Saturday, then practice Sunday. Late in the season rest becomes more important than fine-tuning on off days.
▪ The Hornets shot eight of 13 from 3-point range in the first half.
▪ Rookie Frank Kaminsky had a strong first half with eight points and two rebounds.
▪ Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman attended Friday’s game.
They said it
“I don’t think they just have our number. I think they are playing as one of the best teams in the league right now.” – Pacers coach Frank Vogel on the Hornets’ 3-0 series sweep of Indiana.
“I think we’ve played with good confidence and intensity all year. The problem has been when we had all the injuries.” – Clifford on his team’s recent success.
“He’s super important, ‘Mr. Do-It-All.’” – Walker on Batum’s versatility.
A OFFENSE: This was their 36th game this season with 10 or more 3s.
B+ DEFENSE: They got a bunch of stops in the fourth quarter to hold of a Pacers rally.
A COACHING: It’s very hard to sweep a quality team. The Hornets did that, 3-0, to the Pacers.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell