OKLAHOMA CITY — With his team just on the receiving end of a thunderous Russell Westbrook dunk that the Oklahoma City Thunder star finished with a sneer toward the bench, Charlotte Hornets acting coach Stephen Silas went to work.
Silas, coaching in his fifth consecutive game as head coach Steve Clifford continues to deal with an undisclosed medical condition, tweaked both his rotation and what the Hornets were doing on the offensive end.
The result was an offensive explosion over the final six minutes of the third quarter that helped Charlotte pull off a 116-103 win Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“We played at our pace tonight,” Charlotte center Dwight Howard said. “We didn’t allow Oklahoma to dictate how they wanted to play. We tried to play our game from beginning to end.”
Howard finished with 23 points to lead the Hornets. Kemba Walker added 17 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 17.
Silas ticked off the names that made a difference in the 26-8 run to end the quarter — Howard, Jeremy Lamb and Walker among them.
“I played those guys a little bit longer than usual, just trying to hang on and hang on to the lead,” Silas said. “That group that was in the game really stuck together on both ends of the floor. Russ is so tough. He puts so much pressure on your defense and he makes big plays. For us to come back and keep our composure and get the lead back up was definitely gratifying.”
The win was just the Hornets second on the road this season.
“There are two ways you can go when you have a slow start — you can either look down upon yourself and say I can’t do it, it’s too hard, or you can look in the mirror and say I want to get out of this,” Howard said. “That’s how we are feeling. Together, we can do something good.”
Charlotte (10-16) snapped a three-game losing streak by earning just its second win in nine games.