Williams, Defense Lead Hornets to Huge Win Over Wizards
Marvin Scores Season-High 30 Points in Victory at Spectrum Center
By Matt Rochinski
Never underestimate the importance of veteran leadership in a playoff race.
After playing his role as defensive leader for the Hornets this season, Marvin Williams - the second-longest tenured player on Charlotte, playing in his 14th season - stepped up on the offensive end, scoring a season-high 30 points, including a career-high tying seven three-pointers as the Hornets topped the Washington Wizards 112-111 on Friday at Spectrum Center.
“I was just taking shots I was given. Thankfully tonight they were going in. It’s been probably ten years since I have scored 30, but I am just glad we won,” said Williams. “It’s huge. Everybody knows what position we are in right now, so we just have to take it one game at a time. I know it sounds cliché but that is the situation that we are in. Each and every night we just have to come and focus, play with a lot of energy, with a lot of effort on both ends and then see where the chips fall in April.”
In a crucial game for both teams in a jumbled up Eastern Conference playoff race, it was the Hornets who stood tall on their home court, but it didn’t come easy. Charlotte did it with defense in the game’s final moments.
“I’m proud of these guys, they’ve stuck with it,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego. “Big win for our group. Just to feel this. We’ve lost a couple, tough close games and to get a win like this is big for our group. They stuck with it, they kept battling, didn’t give in. We were up, we were down, it was close there and we made plays down the stretch, especially on the defensive end.”
Trailing 111-109 with 2:04 remaining, the Hornets forced four-straight Washington misses to give themselves a chance, including a Jeremy Lamb block of Tomas Satoransky on the right side. Following back-to-back misses from Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal on ensuing possessions, the Hornets brought a raucous Spectrum Center crowd to its feet when Nic Batum found Lamb on the break on the left side for what would prove to be the game-winning trey with 50.9 ticks on the clock to put Charlotte up 112-111.
Lamb was back at it on Washington’s next possession after Beal missed on a three-pointer from the left side but Bobby Portis was able to bring down the rebound. Somehow, Lamb was able to get a hand on the ball without fouling as Portis went back up with it, giving the ball back to the Hornets with 33.7 remaining. Unfortunately for Charlotte, Walker’s trey from the top of the arc with 17.6 remaining was off the mark, giving the ball back to the Wizards for a last-second attempt.
On their final possession, Beal was unable to connect on his drive down the left side, but it appeared as if Portis was going to grab the rebound and a putback attempt. But Batum didn’t give up on the defensive end and was able to get a hand in and snatch the the board away from Portis to seal the Hornets victory.
Lamb followed Williams with his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 19 points and hauling down 10 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. Walker followed with 18 points, six assists, four rebounds two steals and a blocked shot, while Batum added 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in the starting lineup.
Charlotte also got unexpected contributions off the bench from wing Dwayne Bacon (10 points, three assists, two rebounds) and center Willy Hernangomez (six points, four rebounds and one assist), both of whom had not seen action in the first seven games after the All-Star break.
“We didn’t anticipate going that direction tonight, but that’s what the game called for,” said Borrego. “As I’ve said the last couple of days, Bacon has done a great job in the G League. He’s shown that he could have the potential to be a two-way guy for us. I think he showed that tonight. That defensively he can guard, he can get to the rim, he made a big three for us tonight. I think the game you saw tonight is a reflection of what he’s been doing in the G League. So I’m proud of him, he’s done a great job staying after it, continuing to develop and he was ready for the moment tonight. And Willy [Hernangomez] was as well, those were 10 big minutes out of Willy. We got into foul trouble, we lost MKG [Kidd-Gilchrist to a left knee strain] and Willy stepped up in a big role tonight.”
The Hornets now head to Milwaukee where they’ll tip off at 9 p.m. on Saturday against the Bucks.