The Charlotte Hornets didn’t let their loss a night before get to them, having no problem beat up on the Milwaukee Bucks 115-91 in a very good shooting night from Nicolas Batum, Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams, while Jeremy Lin did well offensively, but was at his poaching best on defense.
Batum scored 25 points and his shooting got the Hornets going early, never looking back. They led by 12 points at the end of the first, by 17 at halftime and the second half turned into garbage time very quickly. He finished with 25 points, including five three pointers, while adding 7 rebounds and 8 assists. As a team the Hornets shot 16-for-29 from beyond the arc, and although they didn’t play at a fast pace (86.1), nothing is better than simply hitting shots.
Besides Batum, there was a good defensive game from Cody Zeller after getting eaten alive by Andre Drummond the game before, handling Greg Monroe a lot better. Marvin Williams had one of those games when he gets plenty of open looks and makes teams pay for leaving him free, scoring 21. Kemba Walker didn’t do much early but had a good third quarter with some very deep three pointers, finishing with 18 points and six assists. But as we keep mentioning, Walker operates in something of a bubble, not influencing the team the way a star should. Batum, and later on Jeremy Lin with Al Jefferson, meant a lot more to the Hornets clinching the win.
Jefferson, who like the entire second unit (until that weird run at the end), had a rough game in Detroit, finished with 15 points and while missing some easy shots, he did well to draw fouls and get to the line, scoring 7 of his points from there. Obviously, having Jefferson on the court forces a certain look and system that slows things down, but he is no longer a heavy-minutes type of player, and in certain situations, there’s plenty of use to his advantages, like they stood out against Milwaukee.
Lin played 25 minutes, pulled out just before the end, getting a lot of garbage time minutes. He scored 9 points on 4-for-5 from the field, finishing with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and five steals. Lin was hungry and aggressive on defense, and while his stealing ability is actually the earlier addition to his defensive arsenal, showing in previous seasons too, it’s nicer to see as part of a much more complete package, and overall a player who can really frustrate not just the players he’s guarding, but an entire offense when he’s hawking every pass and ball that comes near him.
So does Lin move up or down in the way Steve Clifford sees him? Sometimes it’s hard to tell from these kind of games. Lin does flourish in faster paced games, but it didn’t matter against a Bucks team that couldn’t defend anything, as the Hornets shot 55.4% from the field. Everyone else played well too, including Courtney Lee, especially earlier on. Lin is crucial to this team whether Clifford likes it or not, and even if last game was something of a F U in a way to those calling for him to get more minutes or even a starting place, he’s just too good of a player to spend anything less than 25 (should be more) minutes a game on the floor, even when he’s not hitting his shots.