Kulboka, Chealey Step Up for Shorthanded Hornets against China
2 Combine for 34 Points with Bacon, Bridges and Graham Held Out
By Matt Rochinski
After watching summer league veterans Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham step up for the Hornets in their first two games in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2019 in Las Vegas, Hornets Summer League Head Coach Ron Nored left the door open for someone else to step up for Charlotte on Monday against the Chinese National Team.
With Bacon, Bridges and Graham all resting in this contest, 2018 second-round draft pick Arnoldas Kulboka was inserted into the starting lineup and scored a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (58.3 percent) from the field, including 3-of-8 (37.5 percent) from behind the arc, while nabbing four rebounds, grabbing two steals and handing out one assist. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop a determined Chinese National Team from coming away with its first summer league win, 84-80, at Cox Pavilion.
Charlotte took a 14-9 lead early in the contest but China was unfazed by the quick start and took a 21-18 lead after the first quarter. They built the lead to double digits early in the second quarter, taking a 35-25 lead, and did not allow the Hornets to get any closer than five points until the 5:14 mark of the fourth quarter when Josh Perkins hit two free throws to make it a one-possession game and pull Charlotte to within 72-69.
Led by 14 second-half points off the bench from G League veteran Joe Chealey, the Hornets pulled to within three-or-fewer points five times in the last five minutes of action, but were never able to flip the script and take the lead. Chealey would finish with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting (66.7 percent) from the field and 7-of-9 shooting (77.8 percent) from the charity stripe while dishing out a game-high-tying six assists and bringing down two rebounds.
Isaiah Hicks also scored in double-figures for Charlotte with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting (71.4 percent) from the field.
Qi Zhou paced the Chinese National Team with 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting (55.6 percent), including 3-of-5 (60.0 percent) from long range. He also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and blocked four Hornets shots as China outscored Charlotte, 40-32, in the paint.
Charlotte wraps up pool play with a 5 p.m. EST tip against Chicago on Thursday at Cox Pavilion. Watch the game on NBATV.