Charlotte opened up its season with a 126-125 win over the Chicago Bulls
There was excitement buzzing around Charlotte as Hornets fans swarmed the arena and brought the noise that would eventually lead to a Hornets 126-125 victory over the Chicago Bulls. There was the concern of fan interest dropping with Kemba Walker’s departure this off-season, however, the fans seemed more intense and louder than ever before. There was some great takeaways with the Hornets starting out the season 1-0, however, along with the bright spots came some bad and even ugly ones.
The good obviously being a Hornets victory with 12th overall draft pick PJ Washington coming up big and leading the way with 27 points while breaking the NBA record for three-pointers in a debut. Washington wasn’t the only young player who turned heads tonight, either. A great season opener from point guard Devonte’ Graham as the 2nd round pick of 2018 draft ended up with 23 points and eight assists, earning him crunch time minutes over $58 million offseason acquisition Terry Rozier. The Hornets came to play with Washington, Graham, and Dwayne Bacon all with 20+ points while Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams both got 15+.
Now time for the bad and the bad comes with a hefty price tag attached to it. Rozier who is looked at to walk in the shoes that Kemba left struggled to find any offense. Rozier shot 2-10 and ended up with seven points, four rebounds, six assist, and four turnovers in 30 mins of play. In clutch time head coach James Borrego went with hot hand Graham who helped buzz the Hornets into victory while the $58 million man watched. Thankfully this is only game one and Rozier has plenty of time and potential to make himself worth every bit of that $58 million if not more, but if anything he can look at the $141 million man that left and went to Boston struggle with 12 points while shooting 4-18.
Lastly, the ugly. Game one didn’t have much of it except for times of breakdowns on defense that allowed Lauri Markkanen to drop 35 points and rookie Coby White to drop 17 points. Another ugly part of tonight’s game was Nicolas Batum, who is scheduled to make 25.6 million this season, coming off the bench with no shot attempts. He finished with four rebounds, two assists, four turnovers and boos from the swarm who expected more out of the $120 million contract signed three years ago.
This Hornets team came into this season with zero expectation for success and despite it being a solid start to open the season, this win doesn’t change much. The Hornets did play great despite lackluster play from Rozier with the young guys stepping up and veterans like Marvin Williams making clutch shots shooting 5-7 from three. This is just one game out of 82, however, and if the Hornets can keep shooting the way they did in the opener with Rozier finding his groove I don’t see why the Hornets can’t sneak in the open East playoffs.