Hornets Handle Cavs with Balanced Attack

Lamb Drops 19, Bench Swarmers Combine for 67 Points in Win

By Matt Rochinski

Jeremy Lamb scored a season-high 19 points to lead seven Hornets, including five Bench Swarmers, scoring in double figures on the way to a 126-94 win over Cleveland on Saturday in arguably the team’s most well-balanced performance of 2017-18. The 32-point win tied Charlotte’s largest margin of victory this year (Orlando, 10/9) and moved its record to 5-5 overall.

“I thought (Lamb) was fantastic tonight, just his aggressiveness and a lot of it wasn’t just settling for shots, he was getting to the rim, into the paint, he put pressure on the defense,” Head Coach James Borrego said. “He had some nice looks inside, he’s a very good finisher around the rim.”

Kemba Walker chipped in with double-figure scoring on the starting unit with 18 points, while Malik Monk (16), Tony Parker (12), Miles Bridges (12), Willy Hernangomez (11) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (10) all reached the double-digit plateau for the Bench Swarmers - the second-highest scoring bench in the NBA (48.1 points). Charlotte’s bench outscored the Cavs, 67-56, on its way to the second win in this four-game homestand with Atlanta coming to Spectrum Center at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The line our bench had tonight was just really impressive,” said Borrego. “That bench group is really playing well together. Coming in with a lot of energy, moving the ball, sharing the ball, getting to the paint. I was really proud of our guys.”

After opening a 30-22 lead in the first quarter behind five points from Walker and four more apiece from Lamb, Marvin Williams, Parker and Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets kept the Cavs at bay thanks to 13 second-quarter points from Lamb and took a 59-52 lead into the locker room at the break.

Cleveland trimmed Charlotte’s lead to 67-62 with 8:10 remaining in the third before the home team seemed to have had enough and rattled off a 26-11 run to end the third and build a 93-73 lead entering the final frame. To no one’s surprise in this one, the Charlotte would use a team effort in the run, getting six points apiece from Walker and Hernangomez, four points each from Monk and Parker and two more from both Lamb and Bridges as Charlotte broke the game wide open and put things out of reach for the Cavs in the fourth.

“I think our group overall had a good response tonight,” said Borrego. “Our first half was a little bit up and down. It wasn’t the smoothest first half for us, I think we had a little bit there, a 15-point lead and we let them back into it late in that half, so we weren’t sharp to close the first half as I would have liked. That’s where we’ve got to extend the lead, you know. We should be going into half time with a double-digit lead, but I thought the way we responded in the third quarter. Especially the bench unit, they were fantastic, they really extended the lead.”

Nic Batum (nine points, eight assists and eight rebounds) fell one point shy of giving the Hornets an eighth double-digit scoring performance and scratched the surface of a triple-double.

JR Smith came off the bench to lead Cleveland with 14 points in 24 minutes.

NOTES: Jeremy Lamb (19 points) and Malik Monk (16) have now both scored in double digits in eight of 10 games this season, tying them for second on the team in double-digit scoring games behind Kemba Walker (10)… Tony Parker (12) has now scored 10+ points in five-straight contests. It is his longest string of such games since he had six-straight games from 12/25/16 - 1/5/17… The Hornets entered the contest ranked third in the NBA in blocks (6.8) and blocked seven shots tonight, including two apiece from Cody Zeller, Willy Hernangomez and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist… Charlotte also entered the game with the second-fewest turnovers in the league (12.4) and had 14 tonight to Cleveland’s 16… The Hornets led the Cavs in points in the paint (70-40), second-chance points (23-4) and fast-break points (21-14)… Charlotte outrebounded Cleveland, 49-28, including a 12-4 edge on the offensive glass. Seven different Hornets had at least four rebounds.