Hornets Start Homestand with a Bang

Charlotte Rides Defense for Spirited Comeback Victory at Spectrum Center
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Gallery | James Borrego Postgame | Miles Bridges Postgame

Prior to Friday night’s game against the New York Knicks, James Borrego had never coached on his birthday since taking over the Charlotte Hornets three years ago. The team then opened up its four-game homestand by giving him the best possible gift it could – a 104-96 victory.

“That’s all this coach wanted was a W,” said Borrego afterwards. “The guys, they deserve the credit for this. They were fantastic.”

Charlotte trailed by 16 in the first quarter before a 35-10 run spanning the middle two frames gave the hosts a 75-64 lead with 4:22 remaining in the third. New York then responded with a rally of its own to make it a neck-and-neck affair over the closing minutes. Down two with five minutes left, the Hornets peeled off a game-sealing 12-2 run, igniting a deafening hometown crowd that drowned out a large contingent of Knicks supporters.

Added Borrego, “Obviously not the start we wanted, but the second quarter was huge for us just to find our way. There was no finger-pointing. New York was making shots, we were not making shots. We found ourselves in a hole, but we dug ourselves in there in the second quarter and got back in it. The start of the third quarter was huge. Great team win.”

Miles Bridges (24) – who had seven points during the team’s late stretch – and Gordon Hayward (22) both scored 20+ points for Charlotte, and LaMelo Ball just missed another triple-double with 12 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Former-Hornet Kemba Walker had a team-high 26 points for New York, 17 of which came in the first quarter.

After allowing 34 first-quarter points, Charlotte’s defense limited the Knicks to just 62 combined points on 33% shooting and 6-of-25 from three (24%) over the final three frames. Borrego spoke beforehand about how the team’s late-game execution, especially on defense, has steadily improved over the past four outings, resulting in close-out victories over the Grizzlies and now Knicks.

“The environment was great,” said Bridges. “I feel like we just turned it up on defense and when we’re playing great defense, our offense is unstoppable. If we get out in transition, I don’t think there’s a team that can run with us. We locked in, we gang rebounded and got out in transition. Our defense is our best offense.”

The Hornets will be back at home on Sunday night to face the visiting Golden State Warriors starting at 7 PM ET.

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