Frenchman Nicolas Batum Leads Hornets Past Trailblazers, Dedicates Win To Paris Attacks Victims
Nicolas Batum, the Charlotte Hornets forward/guard, was playing against his former team for the first time this season, but his mind was elsewhere. Batum was still reeling from the Paris attacks, which happened a few nights before in his native France. Batum had an extra spring in his step Sunday night.Advertisement
Batum put up his third consecutive season-high game, finishing with 33 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds as Charlotte Hornets defeated Portland Trailblazers 106-94 at the Time Warner Cable Arena. “I want to thank all the fans, the NBA and the Hornets for your support. It means a lot to me,” an emotional Batum said after the game. Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of Batum, “He’s playing with great confidence. His decision-making is always really good, basketball IQ off the charts.”
Prior to the game, Hornets took a moment of silence and played the National Anthem of France to honor those that lost their lives in the horrific Paris Attacks. Batum looked visibly emotional.
Big man Al Jefferson added 29 while guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb had 14 and 13 points respectively as Hornets improved to a 5-3 season record – emerging as serious playoff contenders. Jeremy Lin played some timely defense with a steal and block off the bench.
Batum looked like a man possessed who wanted to finish the game quickly. At one stage, his Hornets led as many as 29 points midway during the third quarter, thanks largely to Batum’s scoring. Batum went 11/19 from the field and 5/10 from deep – most of those misses in the fourth quarter.
“I was with that team (Portland) and that coaching staff the last three years, and they’re the best team at coming back and the best coach (Terry Stotts) in the game at coming back,” said Batum. “I told the guys, ‘They’re going to come back; they’re not going to give up.’ They were going to make a run, and they did it. We relaxed a bit too much, but we found a way to score at the end and win the game,” added the Frenchman.
The Trailblazers refused to go away, cutting the lead to 98-92 with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter. Just then, Charlotte responded with a 8-0 run to firmly close the lid on the game.
For Portland, Damian Lillard had 23 points while Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum added 17 and 16 respectively. The Trailblazers lost their fifth consecutive game, stumbling to a 4-7 season record.