Jeremy Lin and the Charlotte Hornets looked like the team that had already accumulated 46 wins on Monday night in Boston, not the squad that had just lost 3 of the past 5. Charlotte surged ahead in the 2nd quarter, largely thanks to Lin’s marvelous scoring performance that culminated in 21 first half points. The big victory wasn’t a product of any monumental restructuring or strategic changes either, as familiar winning habits simply resurfaced when it mattered most. Beautiful ball movement, scrambling defense and relentless hustle (even when leading by 20) were all on display for 48 minutes.
Here are some additional thoughts on the win, as well as other buzz surrounding Buzz City.
- Al Jefferson got his first start since November 29 and did not disappoint. Filling in for Cody Zeller who sat out with a bruised sternum, Al was a force in the paint. Jefferson recorded 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with 11 boards.
- Regardless of how head coach Steve Clifford decides to use Al in the playoffs, his value was on full display Monday night. At 6’10”, 290 pounds, no one in a white and green jersey could slow the big guy down. He truly out-muscled the team that drafted him 12 years ago.
- Speaking of big men, a portion of the Celtics thrashing must be attributed to Charlotte’s entire frontcourt, which outscored Boston’s counterparts 49-28. Remove Kelly Olynyk and his ponytail from the equation and the tally transforms into a 49-14 obliteration.
- What’s more fascinating: the fact that Jeremy Lin piled up 21 first half points, or the fact that he only managed 4 in the second half and Boston still failed to ever make the game interesting?
- This was a big win on the road against a playoff team competing for postseason positioning. No sugarcoating needed.
- A definite low-light, however, was when Nicolas Batumrolled his ankle early in the third quarter and did not return. Obviously the hope is that this is minor and does not impact Nic’s playoff availability.
- Chicks dig the long ball, and so do the Hornets. The radical improvement in 3-point shooting has been a marquee storyline with this year’s team. According to TeamRankings.com only Golden State, Cleveland and Houston average more points per game via the 3-pointer than the Hornets this season. Charlotte scores 32 points per game from beyond the arc, compared to just 18 last year. Monday night they recorded 42 points from long range.
- Charlotte potentially leapfrogging Boston in the East standings could result in a first round matchup with the Miami Heat. This would put the 9th and 10th overall draft picks from 2015 on the same court in Frank Kaminsky and Justise Winslow, respectively.
- When General Manager Rich Cho (or maybe MJ?) selected Kaminsky over local Duke standout Winslow, many Carolina fans were initially incensed. Frank has shown great development in his rookie campaign, however, currently averaging 11 points and 6 boards in the month of April.
- The currently 6th-seeded Hornets finish the regular season at home Wednesday night, hosting the lottery-bound Orlando Magic. The 5th-seed Celtics wrap up their season at home versus the Heat, while the 4th-seed Hawks visit the Wizards in the nation's capital.
- Don’t talk about that seeding nonsense around Coach Clifford, though. “I don’t see any difference between fifth and sixth. You won’t know who you’d play, nor would it matter.”