It was 11 short days ago that we opined that the Charlotte Hornets were ascending into second-tier status in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Last night, they took down a true first-tier team in dramatic fashion.
By rallying from 23 points down to beat the San Antonio Spurs, 91-88, the Hornets may have officially arrived. This wasn’t just a win over a good team. It was a gutsy, find-a-way-to-get-it-done effort against the league’s premier franchise for nearly two decades.
The Hornets were listless in the first quarter, and 11 seconds into the second they trailed, 30-7. Then, Jeremy Lin began to heat up and everything changed. In fact, the whole season may have changed.
The Hornets are still in the thick of a crowded race for the No. 3 seed in the East. Maybe they aren’t quite at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ level of excellence, but wins like last night’s signify that a franchise has finally arrived. This team is postseason bound, and may even do some damage in the tournament.
What is most impressive and should be the biggest takeaway from this game is that the Hornets stunned arguably the league’s second-best team on a night when their star player scored just six points. With Kemba Walker stifled, Lin dropped 29 off the bench, and Courtney Lee added 17. That is what truly defines good teams, the ability to receive contributions from your “other” guys.
Four seasons ago as the Charlotte Bobcats, the franchise set a record for winning percentage futility (7-59, .106). Now, they are making believers on seemingly a nightly basis.