New-Look Offense Gains Momentum in Home Win over Heat

Hernangomez's Double-Double Leads Strong Showing by Reserves

GALLERY: Photo Gallery | Fashion Gallery
POSTGAME: James Borrego | Tony Parker | Willy Hernangomez
HIGHLIGHTS: Team Highlights | Kemba Walker | Willy Hernangomez

By Matt Rochinski

Charlotte’s new-look offense continues to put up points in the preseason, recording its third-straight game of 104+ points on the way to a 122-113 victory over Miami on Oct. 2 at Spectrum Center. Kemba Walker (18 points) led six Hornets scoring in double figures, while Willy Hernangomez came off the bench to record his first double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) of the preseason. The Hornets have now scored 104, 112 and 122 points in three-consecutive preseason contests.

Charlotte had to battle back in this one after finding itself down 34-25 after the first quarter and seeing that deficit balloon to as many as 14 points (63-49) with 1:47 remaining in the first half. Not wanting to take a double-digit deficit into the locker room at the break, the Hornets responded with a 9-0 run to close the half, cutting Miami’s advantage to 63-58. 

Cody Zeller got the run started with a hook shot inside and Miles Bridges got the Spectrum Center crowd on its feet on Charlotte’s ensuing possession with a throw-down, alley-oop dunk from Walker, making it three-straight games with at least one “Oh my!!!” moment from the Hornets rookie. Jeremy Lamb then turned defense to offense with blocks on consecutive Heat possessions leading to points in transition capped by three Walker free throws.

“So much of our offense this year is going to be dictated off of our defense,” said Head Coach James Borrego.  “The more physical we are, the better we are defensively, the more we can run and the more we can put pressure on defenses.  Hopefully over time, over a 48 minute game we can just wear down teams with our pace and our ball movement but if we’re not getting stops, like we did in that first quarter, we got no shot to score against physical teams like this. 

“Once our physicality picked up defensively I think our second unit really picked it up, got us back into that game and steadied us just like that first Boston game.  The second unit steadied us and I think our starters responded very well in the third quarter.  That’s what we have to look like more consistently for 48 minutes.”

Charlotte continued to build on its momentum on both ends of the court in the third quarter, putting up 30 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the field (47.6 percent), including 5-of-7 from long range (71.4 percent) sparked by Marvin Williams three treys. The Hornets defense followed suit, holding Miami to 19 points on 31.6 percent shooting from the field (6-of-19) while forcing seven Heat turnovers. After allowing 30 points in the paint in the first half, Charlotte held Miami to just eight in the third as the Hornets began to pull away.

The second unit continued to push the pace for Charlotte in the final stanza, putting up 34 points to the Heat’s 31. Hernangomez came off the bench to notch 14 of his 16 points in the fourth, while Bridges added nine more and finished with 14 points, giving the Hornets rookie three-straight double-digit scoring performances to start the preseason.

“I was really excited to be back home, you know playing (in front of) our fans,” said Hernangomez. “I think it’s going to be great. We feel great to be back home, we got the win, I think we did a great job today and for sure. This is training camp, pre-season, we have many, many things to work out. We’re going to watch film for sure and be better, but I think we’re happy with the way we came back in this game.”

Charlotte now gets a bit of a break before taking on the Bulls at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Spectrum Center.


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