Hornets Ace 1st Major Test of the Season
Charlotte Off to Franchise-Best 3-0 Start
The Charlotte Hornets opened their first back-to-back of the season on Sunday afternoon with a major road test in the Brooklyn Nets, a team that many consider to be the current NBA title favorite. It appeared to be a test the Hornets had all the answers to – especially in the second half – resulting in a 111-95 victory and the first 3-0 start in franchise history.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Head Coach James Borrego after the win. “Their resiliency, their toughness, their trust in each other, their buy-in, their belief, I’m extremely proud of them. That’s a heck-of-a team over there. We never gave in though. We stayed the course, kept believing in one another, kept trusting each other. Big road win.”
Trailing by 10 early in the second half, Charlotte outscored the Nets by nine in the third quarter to take a 79-78 lead into the fourth. Ish Smith (11) and Cody Martin (8) would combine for 19 of the team’s final 32 points as the Hornets’ defense closed the contest allowing just 37 total second-half points on 36% shooting.
Miles Bridges finished with a team-high 32 points, marking the first time in his career he’s notched consecutive 30-point performances. The Hornets did a lot of their damage in the points-off-turnover department, scoring 29 off 17 Brooklyn giveaways. They committed just 12 of their own on the night, with only two coming in the second half leading to zero Nets points.
“We’re in front of people a lot more,” added Borrego. “We get our hands on balls, we’re contesting more, we’re in front of the ball. These are tough shots, even the shots [Kevin] Durant hit tonight, you have to tip your hat to him. Overall, our defense is much better right now. Our overall length, our aggression in passing lanes, we’re turning teams over… we’re a much better defense right now.”
It’s certainly a great start to the season for the Hornets and to triumph over a team like the Nets which features two superstars in Durant (game-high 38 points) and James Harden (15 points) is reason enough to be excited about the potential of this team. But Borrego and his players know it’s still just one game, although the result is definitely something to build on.
Said Smith, “It’s a long season. We’ve got 79 more [games], but it just shows first and foremost how much talent we do have. Defensively, we were special tonight. To hold that team to 95 points, that’s pretty special.”
The Hornets will now look to sweep the back-to-back tomorrow night at home against the Boston Celtics beginning at 7 PM ET.