Hornets Handle Cavaliers, Stay Alive for Postseason Berth
Charlotte Takes Control in 2nd Half, Sets Franchise Single-Game Record for 3PM
By Sam Perley
The Hornets got off to a solid start and kept things rolling well into the second half as they took care of business by knocking off the Cavaliers, 124-97, on Tuesday, April 9. Unfortunately for Charlotte, the Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t hold off the hard-charging Detroit Pistons in the fourth quarter, which keeps the Hornets in ninth place in the East with just one game to go.
Kemba Walker finished the outing with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, three rebounds and a team-high seven assists in just 27 minutes over three quarters of work. College teammate Jeremy Lamb also added 23 points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals off the bench.
Charlotte built up an eight-point halftime lead, which extended to 15 by the start of the fourth after outscoring the Cavaliers, 26-19, in the third quarter. The advantage grew to as high as 27 in the final 12 minutes as Charlotte held Cleveland to just 41 second-half points.
“I thought we were disciplined from the start. I thought we were focused, came out with great energy,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego after the game. “Locked into the game plan. I thought for the most part, we played for 48 minutes. Great team effort. I’m proud of the guys the way they’re responding right now.”
Miles Bridges totaled 18 points, a team-high seven rebounds, four assists and established new career highs for blocks (three) and three-pointers (four). Dwayne Bacon also had 18 points, while Frank Kaminsky (14) and Devonte’ Graham (10) were in double figures as well.
Rookie Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 18 points and a career-high 10 assists, good for the second double-double of his NBA tenure. Cedi Osman was right behind him with 17 points and Larry Nance Jr. totaled 10 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and six assists for his 18th double-double of the campaign.
Charlotte went 22-of-44 from three-point range (50.0 percent), setting a new single-game franchise record for long-distance makes (previous: 20 done twice). The Hornets also outscored the Cavaliers, 25-6, in fast-break points and snapped an eight-game road losing streak in Cleveland.
The Hornets will now close out the regular season at home on Wednesday, April 10 as they take on the visiting Orlando Magic starting at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. The squad needs a win and a road loss by the Pistons to the New York Knicks in order to qualify for the postseason.
“We just do what we do,” added Borrego when asked about his team’s approach to Wednesday’s contest. “Every game is important and they add them all up. Tonight, we were focused. We needed this one. Our guys went out and took it. Same thing tomorrow night. No changes, same mentality. Final game of the season. It should be an exciting one.”