CHARLOTTE -- Miles Bridges was feeling it Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center. Playing against the team he rooted for as a kid, he started out by making five of his first seven shots.
The second-year forward out of Michigan State finished the game with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal for the Charlotte Hornets in a tight 102-101 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Bridges was tasked with guarding the likes of Blake Griffin, Tony Snell and others on one end, then scoring and dishing out assists on the other. He put Bruce Brown in the spin cycle and threaded a bounce pass to Bismack Biyombo for a fast break dunk.
The 6-foot-6, 21-year-old forward is enjoying a solid sophomore campaign so far. He has started in every game for the Hornets this season and is averaging 12.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per-game. He's also shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range. Last week, Bridges dropped a career-high 31 points on the Wizards in a loss.
Still, the skill that Hornets' head coach James Borrego values most in Bridges is his defense. Bridges' active hands, quick feet, length, speed and toughness makes him a versatile defender that can stifle many of the league's better scorers.
"I think he's adjusting well. He's our primary perimeter player right now, defensively, as well as Nic (Batum)," Borrego said after the win over the Pistons. "He's coming in with aggression, he's doing a really good job on the ball defensively."
Borrego also acknowledged the hurdle that Bridges has had to overcome this season. Bridges is probably better suited to play power forward, but with rookie P.J. Washingtion impressing, Bridges has slid over to small forward.
"Offensively, it's tough for a kid to play between two positions. We're trying to play position-less, but the reality is, it is a tough adjustment," Borrego said. "I think he's finding his way. I think he had a really good road trip. He doesn't look like he's forcing it right now, to me, offensively. He's taking what the defense gives him, we're moving him around, we're posting him some, he's playing some pick-and-roll. So, he's doing a very good job for us right now."
After the Hornets win over the Pistons on Wednesday, Hornet Maven caught up with Bridges for a brief interview.
Being a kid from Michigan, do you kind of look forward to playing against the Pistons?
BRIDGES: “Oh yea, for sure. I grew up watching the Pistons, being around the Pistons. I actually watched the Pistons a lot when I was growing up. Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince… So, it’s fun playing against them.”
Y’all only had four turnovers tonight. Has taking care of the ball been an extra emphasis over the last couple of days?
BRIDGES: “That’s always our emphasis. This is the first game that we really executed without any turnovers. Our point guards did a great job – Terry, Devonte’, Malik. We just didn’t turn the ball over or make any silly plays.”
Devonte’ had 15 assists tonight. How good is his passing right now and how good is you chemistry with him?
BRIDGES: “He knows how to pass the ball. He’s a true point guard. We got two point guards out there and both can pass the ball really good. Devonte’ has been practicing a lot though, because at Kansas he was shooting the ball predominantly, so, he’s done a great job.”
Coach Borrego mentioned earlier that, with P.J.’s emergence, you’ve slid back to the three spot some. How have you handled playing a few different positions?
BRIDGES: “I was prepared for it. Last year I played the three and the four, sometimes the five. I’m prepared for it. P.J. has done a great job this year, so I’m going to keep riding his coattails.”
Thanks, man. Happy Thanksgiving. Who got the bottles?
BRIDGES: “I don’t know. I just seen it in my locker, so it’s mine.”