(Written by David W. Walters)
The Charlotte Hornets (3-4) battled back from a 15-point halftime deficit and ultimately lost a close one in overtime last night against the Atlanta Hawks (3-3), 114-117, but perhaps there were a few positives that came out of the game. One positive could be that the missing starters afforded an opportunity for the reserveBuzzs to get more minutes and develop more consistency, something that was clearly missing in the last matchup with Chicago the previous night.
Only two starters played for the Hornets, as center Al Jefferson sat out the second game in as many days for the Hornets. Marvin Williams and Lance Stephenson both sat out as they nursed minor injuries from Sunday night’s game. The positive that comes from this is the amount of minutes afforded to a few of the Hornets key reserves, who looked out of place at times in Charlotte’s loss to the Bulls on Sunday.
Gary Neal recovered from his early game shooting struggles to hit some key baskets down the stretch as he flirted with a triple-double, putting up a line of 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Backup center Cody Zeller had a strong game as well with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists before fouling out in the overtime period and Kemba Walker stuffed the stat sheet himself with a line of 17 points, four rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks.
Bismack Biyombo started the game and responded with five points but led the team with 10 rebounds and three blocks and MKG wasn’t scared to shoot as he went 5-15 from the field and finished with 10 points. Reserve point guard Brian Williams had his best game of the exhibition season so far as he put up 14 to go with three steals and rookie P.J. Hairston had 11 points and three rebounds.
Another positive for Charlotte was top pick Noah Vonleh finally seeing his first action of the preseason after missing the past few weeks with a sports hernia injury. Vonleh played 19 minutes, scoring four points, grabbing four rebounds and getting two steals. The rookie looked out of place at times as he struggled to get up to game speed, but that should be expected, as this was his first game action with his Hornets teammates.
At one point, the Hawks went on a 20-0 tear that spanned across the first and second quarters, allowing them to take a big lead into the locker room. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with a well rounded game of 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks while sharp shooting guard Kyle Korver poured in 17 points to go with four assists of his own. Mike Scott had 16 points off 4-6 shooting from long range while Dennis Schroder and Thabo Sefolosha scored 12 points a piece for Atlanta.
Gerald Henderson sat out his seventh straight game as he continues to rehab a hamstring issue.
The Hornets look to get back on track when they come home to The Hive on Thursday night to face off against Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers.
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Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)