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Junior achievements: Hornets serve youth, and win streak follows
Young players bring energy to playoff chase
 
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 11:30 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

FILE PHOTO
Young players like rookie forward Miles Bridges are bringing fresh energy to the Charlotte Hornets' late-season push for the playoffs.

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Playing young guys is paying off for the Charlotte Hornets.


Their first four-game win streak of the season came with second-year guard/forward Dwayne Bacon and rookie forward Miles Bridges in the starting rotation. Bacon scored a career-high 24 points in their 125-116 overtime win against San Antonio for their first overtime win of the season and first season sweep of the Spurs since 1996-97. Charlotte, which improved to 35-39, is 10th in the Eastern Conference with two home games remaining. With eight games left in the regular season, including four out West, coach James Borrego intends to continue using younger players.


“They’re in our rotation,” he said. “They’re playing right now, and they’re going to going to continue to play.”

All-Star point guard Kemba Walker noted how the youngsters have infused Charlotte with a newfound energy, which has been apparent during the streak.

“They just have great energy,” Walker said. “I don’t know if I could keep up with them, to tell you the truth. They go out there, moving so fast, but it’s the future of this organization. I’m just trying my best to be the best leader I can be for those guys. I know they’re looking for me for advice, or when adversity hits during these games, they’re looking at me.”

 


Walker has fostered a relationship on and off the court with his young teammates, like having dinner at Nakato last night with Bacon, Bridges and rookie guard Devonte Graham. While dinner conversation does not always revolve around basketball, they do discuss the game.


“With all our young people, me, Miles, Te [Graham], Malik [Monk], we’re always hanging together,” Bacon said. “We’re always doing stuff. We label ourselves as the young group. We have group message, on top of the team group message. It’s all of us, really. Te is my next door neighbor [in the locker room], so he’s like right there. We talk a little basketball, but mostly just hanging, chilling, getting away from it—having some fun times.”


Said Walker: “It sounds crazy to say, but I’m a vet now. I can’t believe it. I’m trying to be the best vet for those guys that I can. We hang out all the time. We’re definitely becoming closer each and every day. I think because of that, it’s definitely translating to on the court.”


Walker’s goal is to lead by example.


“I’m not a big talker,” he said. “I’m in here putting in my work. There’s times when I’m here at night, and I see a few of those guys here as well. Just small things like that. That’s all it is, just hard work. You have to be dedicated to your craft to grow as a player in this league.”


Said Bacon: “I came in knowing you had to work for what you want, and I’m fine with that. Never once have I just walked in here and just complained, saying I don’t deserve to be here, because I do. You be patient, your time will come. Right now is my time.”


Charlotte stands 1-4 with Bacon in the starting lineup, but has become a rotation fixture over the last four games. Most of his season has been spent bouncing back and forth between Greensboro and Charlotte, with minimal minutes in the NBA and plenty in the

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