1. Rookie gave Hornets a boost in 1st start
The Charlotte Hornets made a lineup change coming out of the All-Star break, with rookie Miles Bridges making his first career start at the 3 spot against the Washington Wizards Friday night and veteran Jeremy Lamb moving to the bench.
Bridges was solid in 29 minutes, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with six rebounds, three steals and a block as the Hornets were a plus-17 with him on the floor.
Lamb, returning to the reserve role he occupied for much of his career prior to this season, also responded well to the move, dropping in 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, going 2-of-3 from 3-point range, with six rebounds and four steals in 23 minutes.
Charlotte also made one small move just before the break, claiming veteran point guard Shelvin Mack off waivers from the Atlanta Hawks to fill a roster spot that had been open all season.
Mack did not play in the win over Washington, but played in two games prior to the break, scoring six points in 24 minutes on 1-of-7 shooting in those two contests.
Coach James Borrego had not made a voluntary change to his starting unit prior to the break, going with Kemba Walker and Lamb at the guards, Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams at the forwards and Cody Zeller at center when those players were available.
But he told the media, via Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, after Friday’s win that he liked the look of Bridges in the first unit and Lamb with the second.
"“I like the mixture of starting Miles and what it does for both our units. I can mix-and-match a little bit better.”"
Moving Bridges into the starting lineup at the 3 spot enabled Batum to move back to the 2, where he has played much of his career, and Batum seemed to be an immediate beneficiary of the change, scoring 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and hitting 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
He also had eight rebounds and five assists.
Biyombo was either a healthy scratch or a DNP-CD in 25 of Charlotte’s first 35 games before Zeller went down with a hand injury. Hernangomez started the first two games Zeller was out before Biyombo started the next 17.
Since Zeller reclaimed his starting spot in his third game back on Feb. 9, Biyombo has been the backup, with Hernangomez getting off the bench just once for 10 minutes in their Valentine’s Day loss at Orlando, a game in which Biyombo was inactive.
The one thing Biyombo gives Charlotte that no one else does is rim protection — in just 14.9 minutes per game, he’s averaging 1.1 blocks per game. No one else on the Charlotte roster averages more than Zeller’s 0.8 in 25.0 minutes a night.
Ultimately, this is a team that will go as far as Walker can carry it, but getting the rotation settled and effective behind him could help lighten his load a bit, considering his 31.1 percent usage rate is the seventh-highest in the NBA.