|Treveon Graham fits in nicely as last-minute replacement|
|Clifford praises defense in win vs. Sacramento|
|Published Monday, January 22, 2018 10:26 pm|
Treveon Graham went from deep on the bench to his first start of the season.
The Charlotte Hornets forward’s second career NBA start came against Sacramento, whom they beat 112-107. Graham, who played 21 minutes, tallied two rebounds, three points and one assist. He connected on 1-of-2 shots from beyond the arc and 1-of-3 from the field.
“Before the game, they told me I was going to start,” Graham said. “Whether I’m starting or coming off the bench, I still want to play my game. I don’t try to do anything different. Knocking down open shots and playing great defense is what I do. I just wanted to go out there and do my job.”
Coach Steve Clifford put Graham in the starting rotation as a spot starter in the absence of their best perimeter defender, forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was out with a right axillary abscess. Clifford anticipates it will be cleared up by Wednesday’s home game against New Orleans.
“When he got his opportunity, he played well,” Clifford said. “He went from deep on the bench to being an every night rotation guy because when he got the minutes he played well, and tonight he was a spot starter because a starter was injured. Our whole coaching staff has confidence in him. He’s smart, tough and when he has an open shot he knocks it in.”
Said Graham: “Just locking in on whatever they want me to do out there, that’s what I have to do. Today it was being a perimeter defender on whoever they wanted me to guard. I tried to do my best in that position.”
Graham has made the most of his opportunities with the Hornets, regardless of how they have come.
“Tre is not a guy where you have to kind of sit him down and tell him things, or make sure that he’s OK,” forward Marvin Williams said. “Tre is a very, very smart individual, one, and two, he kind of knows what he has to do to stick around. I think that’s why he has played so well this year for us.”
Playing four positions in college at Virginia Commonwealth has translated into versatility in the NBA, where the Hornets primarily use Graham at small and power forward. He scored a career-high 14 points against Milwaukee on Dec. 23, and averages 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He has appeared in 32 games this season, shooting 24-of-53 from beyond the arc and 57-of-129 from the field.
“He comes in every single day and he works extremely hard,” Williams said. “He’s always in great shape. He always knows what’s going on, which is a little different sometimes for a younger guy. I remember when I was 19-20, and you’re still trying to figure things out, but it doesn’t take him very long to know what’s going on. He knows from multiple positions as well, which is really impressive. You have to tip your hat to him the way that he works. He’s a true professional. I know we’re all glad to have him as a teammate, and I know coach Cliff really loves coaching him.”
Notes on the next game:
At 19-26, Charlotte sits 11th in the Eastern Conference, third in the Southeast Division. Atlanta stands 14th in the East, and fourth in the Southeast (14-32).
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