Charlotte Hornets

East leaders Cleveland Cavaliers hold off Charlotte Hornets 112-103

Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson, right, dunks the ball against Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum in Sunday’s game in Cleveland.
Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson, right, dunks the ball against Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum in Sunday’s game in Cleveland. AP Photo

Almost everything uncharacteristic of the Charlotte Hornets all transpired on Sunday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Despite a late surge, a slow start and too many miscues were too much to overcome and it all led to a 112-103 loss.

The Hornets (44-32) fell behind by 21 in the second quarter and 20 in the third but still managed to cut the deficit to four with 4:25 left. But the Hornets could not get any key defensive stops down the stretch as LeBron James scored on consecutive pick and roll plays. His layup with 1:22 left for an 11-point deficit sealed the Hornets’ fate.

Three who mattered

Kemba Walker: Led the Hornets with 29 points and seven assists. Walker made some big shots during several late rallies to help the team overcome double-digit deficits.

Spencer Hawes: Hawes was solid as a fill in for Al Harrington, who sat out with a quad contusion. Hawes had nine points and led the team with nine rebounds.

Marvin Williams: Scored 22 points and had six rebounds.

Observations

▪ It was hard to tell how the Hornets were ranked No. 1 in least turnovers per game at 11.9. Many careless turnovers led to 15 turnovers against the Cavs.

▪ Nicolas Batum had five points and five assists. He did not play in the second half because of a knee injury. Coach Steve Clifford said it isn’t serious enough to keep Batum out long term. Batum, who often plays consistent defense on James, was missed in the second half.

▪ No Al Jefferson contributed to the Cavaliers out rebounding the Cavaliers 46-35.

▪ In the third quarter, the Hornets rallied from a 20-point deficit and trailed by eight but Jeremy Lin could not stop three consecutive 3-pointers by J.R. Smith to push the deficit to 13.

Worth mentioning

▪ Williams may have gotten away with a flagrant foul late in the first quarter when he pushed Cavaliers forward Kevin Love to the court when fighting off a pick. The refs went to the monitor and decided Williams only committed a foul.

▪ Comedian Bill Bellamy of “Who’s Got Jokes” and Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz attended Sunday’s game.

They said it

“It all starts with defense. Our defense made it tough on them and [our defense] shows our toughness.” – Cody Zeller, on rally to bring team within four late in the fourth quarter.

“We have a lot of guys with a lot of fight. We didn’t make shots in the second quarter that we usually make and Cleveland did a good job of taking advantage of that. We hung in there, chipped away and kept fighting.” – Williams on team’s rally.

“He played really well with his rebounding and his ball movement. He’s out there getting space for his teammates. He was really physical on the defensive glass. – coach Clifford on Hawes.

 
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