The Charlotte Hornets are, at worst, the No. 6 team in the Eastern Conference.
They locked that up with a 113-99 home victory Friday over the Brooklyn Nets. The Hornets (46-33) took control of this game in the third quarter, outscoring the Nets 34-21. Point guard Kemba Walker scored 11 of his 22 points in that quarter.
By locking up at least sixth place, the Hornets have narrowed their potential first-round playoff opponents to three possibilities: The Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics or Miami Heat. The Hornets still hope to compete for home-court advantage in the first round.
They have three games left on the regular-season schedule: Back-to-back road game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday and Celtics on Monday, following by the home finale Wednesday against the Orlando Magic.
Three who mattered
Marvin Williams: His stats might not have been gaudy, but he made multiple hustle plays early in the second half to extend the lead to double digits.
Walker: The ease with which he gets to the rim against the Nets has been a running theme in this season series.
Troy Daniels: His three first-half 3-pointers were a nice boost off the bench.
▪ Williams is one of only four NBA players to reach 500 rebounds and 125 3-pointers made this season. The other three: Paul George, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love.
▪ Entering Friday’s game the Hornets had committed nearly twice as many shot-clock violations this season (51) as their collective opponent (26).
▪ Nic Batum returned from a knee strain, but Jeremy Lamb missed the game with a strained toe.
▪ The Hornet with the most foul-outs this season: Center Cody Zeller with four.
▪ With his 34-point game Wednesday in New York, Walker now has a career-best 13 games of 30 or more points this season.
▪ The Nets shut down center Brook Lopez and forward Thaddeus Young for the season recently.
▪ ESPN has dropped its telecast of the Hornets’ game against the Orlando Magic Wednesday to instead televise the game between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.
▪ It’s likely Fox Sports Southeast will televise the Hornets-Magic game.
They said it
“There is no doubt we are becoming more relevant in the NBA.” – Hornets coach Steve Clifford.
“To all those young guys out there listening, always stay ready no matter when your number is called.” – Daniels on his 17 points off the bench.
“(We’ve) got to win three games. You never know, you may get home-court advantage, too.” – Batum on the remaining schedule.
B+ OFFENSE: They shot well from both the field and 3-point range.
B DEFENSE: They held the Nets to 9-of-28 shooting in building the third-quarter lead.
B+ COACHING: Locking up at least sixth in the East is an accomplishment following a major roster makeover.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell