Charlotte Hornets

Batum’s triple-double helps Charlotte Hornets pull away, top Chicago Bulls

Guards Nic Batum and Kemba Walker scored 20 points each to help the Charlotte Hornets pull away in the second half to a 103-91 victory against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at the Spectrum Center.

Batum added 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double of the season. Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky scored 13 points each and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 12 for the Hornets (17-13), who have won three straight.

Jimmy Butler scored 26 for the Bulls (14-15), who have lost five of their past six.

Chicago, down 48-40 at halftime, opened the second half with nine straight points, taking the lead at 49-48 on Butler’s 3-pointer from the right wing a minute and 39 seconds into the half. The Hornets responded with a 13-6 run to take a 61-55 lead and the Bulls never got closer.

Charlotte led 75-67 at the end of the third quarter.

The Hornets, who have had to overcome slow starts in recent games, were up as much as seven points in the opening three minutes. Chicago then went on a 13-5 run to take its first lead of the game at 17-16 on a baseline jumper by Taj Gibson with 3:34 left in the quarter. The Bulls led 26-22 after one quarter.

Three who mattered

Batum: His first triple-double of the season was the seventh of his career. As the stats indicated, he was solid when the Hornets needed a steady hand.

Kaminsky: Most of his points were big ones in the second half as the Hornets took control.

Butler: There were times when he appeared to be keeping the Bulls in the game by himself, especially during an 11-point third quarter. When he missed a couple of shots near the end of the period, the Bulls started to fade.

Observations

▪ The Hornets’ top area of statistical superiority was points in the paint, a 48-32 advantage.

▪ It wasn’t a great night beyond the arc for Charlotte (5-of-18), but the Hornets were more than adequate everywhere else: 32-of-66 from 2-point range (remember those second-chance points) and 24-of-28 from the free throw line.

▪ It was a physical and sometimes chippy game, and it finally boiled over during the last minute. Chicago forward Gibson and center Robin Lopez were ejected with 38 seconds to play – Gibson after throwing elbows at Zeller and Marvin Williams, and Lopez for a Level 2 flagrant foul.

Worth mentioning

▪ Charlotte backup forward Marco Belinelli left the game with a sprained left ankle after playing just two minutes in the second quarter.

▪ The Hornets are on the road for games at Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. Monday and Orlando at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The next home game is at 7 p.m. Thursday against the Miami Heat.

They said it

“If you’re going to win in this league, you have to bring it every night. We have to take advantage of our strengths, which are our basketball IQ and our physicality.” – Hornets coach Steve Clifford

Report Card

Offense B: The Hornets found what worked and stayed with it, pounding the ball inside with success.

Defense A: Charlotte held the Bulls under 40 percent shooting from the field and came up with key stops in big moments during the second half.

Coaching A: Good job of managing the roster by Clifford, putting the right combinations on the floor, especially during the second half.

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