Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker (15) prepares to shoot a 3-pointer in Tuesday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls. Bob Leverone AP
Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker (15) prepares to shoot a 3-pointer in Tuesday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls. Bob Leverone AP

Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets overcome injuries, hold off Chicago Bulls

February 27, 2018 09:37 PM

The Charlotte Hornets got to five consecutive victories this season, but this home triumph over the Chicago Bulls was costly.

Almost immediately, the Hornets lost starting small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a hamstring strain. Then, backup center Cody Zeller went out for the second half with a sore left knee. So the Hornets will be shorthanded Wednesday in Boston, following Tuesday’s 118-103 win at Spectrum Center.

Point guard Kemba Walker had his 11th game of 30 or more points this season, finishing with 31 and five assists. Walker made six 3-pointers.

The Hornets got a big scoring game from center Dwight Howard (24 points), despite Howard missing the entire second quarter with a sore back. Howard started the second half, and dominated the third quarter making seven of eight shots from the field. Throughout this game, Nic Batum (a season-high 12 assists) kept finding scoring passes for Howard, including two early alley-oops.

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The Hornets improved to 28-33 and are on their longest winning streak of the season. The Bulls, who won the first two games of the season series against the Hornets, fell to 20-41.

Three who mattered

Howard: He overcame a back strain to have a big second half.

Walker: He made five of his first nine 3-point attempts.

Batum: A season-high for assists.

Observations

▪  The Hornets lost Kidd-Gilchrist to a left hamstring strain in the first quarter. That’s the first injury since the team reconvened after All-Star break.

▪  The Hornets made five of their first six attempts from 3-point range. They had a red-hot start from 3-point range after the All-Star break, making 44 of their first 95 attempts.

▪  Zeller missed the second half with a sore left knee. That pushed Willy Hermangomez into the rotation. Also, Howard missed some time in the first half with a sore back, but returned to start the second half.

▪  The next 10 games could be huge in whether the Hornets have any realistic shot at the playoffs; seven of those 10 games are away from Spectrum Center, due to the CIAA and NCAA tournaments being in Charlotte.

▪  If Kidd-Gilchrist can’t play on some or all of this trip, coach Steve Clifford’s logical options would be to start either Treveon Graham or Jeremy Lamb. Clifford could opt to start Graham to keep Lamb in his sixth-man role..

Worth mentioning

▪  The Hornets announced Tuesday morning that Steve Martin, who has called every season of the NBA in Charlotte, is retiring at the end of this season. Martin has served as a play-by-play voice, either on radio or television, every NBA season in Charlotte since the original Hornets’ debut in 1988.

▪  Stephanie Ready, a fixture on Hornets’ telecasts, is doing a half-dozen games for TNT and Intel the rest of this season on a virtual-reality platform.

▪  Howard was charged with his 13th technical foul in the second half. Three more (barring one being rescinded upon review), and Howard will automatically be suspended for a game under NBA rules..

Report card

B+ OFFENSE: When the Hornets reach at least 10 3-pointers made, good things typically happen.

C- DEFENSE: They committed a bunch of shooting fouls.

B COACHING: Steve Clifford lost two of his top seven players in this one, in Kidd-Gilchrist and Zeller.

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell

HORNETS 118, BULLS 103

Chicago

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Markkanen

32:12

5-11

0-0

7

1

1

11

Nwaba

31:43

4-5

2-2

6

2

5

11

Felicio

26:19

6-8

0-0

6

4

3

12

Dunn

30:07

2-11

6-8

2

3

4

10

LaVine

34:49

7-19

4-6

4

4

2

21

Valentine

29:28

5-9

2-2

6

4

2

14

Portis

23:05

4-9

2-3

10

1

2

12

Payne

17:53

3-4

0-0

1

6

2

6

Vonleh

14:24

3-5

0-0

2

1

2

6

Totals

240

39-81

16-21

44

26

23

103

Percentages: FG .481, FT .762. 3-Point Goals: 9-24, .375 (LaVine 3-5, Portis 2-4, Valentine 2-4, Nwaba 1-1, Markkanen 1-4, Payne 0-1, Vonleh 0-2, Dunn 0-3). Team Rebounds: 5. Team Turnovers: 20 (22 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (Dunn 2, Payne 2, Nwaba). Turnovers: 20 (Dunn 7, LaVine 3, Portis 3, Felicio 2, Markkanen 2, Payne, Valentine, Vonleh). Steals: 8 (Nwaba 3, Markkanen 2, Felicio, Portis, Valentine).

Charlotte

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

K-Gilchrist

6:04

0-0

0-0

0

0

1

0

Williams

29:35

5-8

1-2

5

1

3

14

Howard

28:41

10-12

4-5

6

1

3

24

Batum

32:39

3-10

3-3

7

12

0

10

Walker

33:46

11-19

3-4

2

5

0

31

Graham

27:48

2-4

1-2

2

0

2

7

Lamb

26:57

7-9

0-0

1

5

1

15

Kaminsky

22:47

4-6

1-2

2

0

1

11

C-Williams

13:50

1-11

2-2

5

2

1

4

Zeller

10:57

1-2

0-1

4

1

0

2

Hernangmz

4:00

0-0

0-0

1

0

2

0

Bacon

1:28

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

0

Monk

1:28

0-1

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

240

44-82

15-21

35

28

14

118

Percentages: FG .537, FT .714. 3-Point Goals: 15-35, .429 (Walker 6-10, Williams 3-4, Kaminsky 2-2, Graham 2-4, Lamb 1-2, Batum 1-6, Monk 0-1, Carter-Williams 0-6). Team Rebounds: 7. Team Turnovers: 14 (22 PTS). Blocked Shots: 8 (Howard 5, Batum, Kaminsky, Williams). Turnovers: 14 (Walker 6, Batum 3, Howard 2, Graham, Williams, Zeller). Steals: 11 (Graham 4, Walker 3, Batum 2, Carter-Williams, Kidd-Gilchrist). Technical Fouls: coach Hornets (Defensive three second), 11:49 second; Howard, 7:11 third; coach Hornets (Defensive three second), 9:48 fourth; Carter-Williams, 8:22 fourth. ifnnull;

Chicago

29

22

27

25

103

Charlotte

26

25

36

31

118

Att.—14,521 (19,077).

Officials—Tony Brown, Haywoode Workman, Ken Mauer