CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Marvin Williams often guards Frank Kaminsky in practice, so Williams wasn’t surprised when his Charlotte Hornets teammate scored 20 points off the bench Wednesday night against Denver.
But what impresses Williams even more is Kaminsky’s improvement on defense and in playing the pro game.
“Frank’s a smart, smart guy,” he said.
Kaminsky’s infusion of offense was critical in a decisive and dominant second quarter as the Hornets built a 25-point lead and cruised to a 110-93 victory over the Nuggets.
Kaminsky showed his versatility by scoring in multiple ways. He had 14 points at halftime, hitting two 3-pointers and also scoring on a series of mid-range jumpers and back-to-the-basket moves.
Williams said it’s obvious Kaminsky benefited from being healthy throughout the offseason for the first time as a pro.
“It’s a very big difference if you don’t spend three or four months out of the summer time trying to rehab your body to play this season as opposed to getting your body stronger, getting in great shape and being able to work on your game,” Williams said. “I feel like for him this summer, he was able to do those things.”
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard was again dominant in the paint and on the glass for the Hornets. He scored 15 points and pulled down 19 boards, his third double-double in four games.
Kemba Walker added 19 points and five assists for Charlotte. Malik Monk scored 12 of his 17 in the first half, and Jeremy Lamb finished with 16 points.
“Obviously, that was the most balanced and well-rounded game we’ve played so far,” coach Steve Clifford said. “We had better readiness to start.”
Nikola Jokic had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Nuggets, who lost their second straight. Gary Harris also scored 18, and Jamal Murray had 16. Mason Plumlee grabbed 10 rebounds to go with eight points.
Denver shot 7 of 30 from the field in the second quarter as the Hornets built a 62-39 halftime lead. Nuggets coach Michael Malone was not happy with the effort he saw.
“My message is simple,” he said. “I’m going to start our group and if I see guys that don’t want to play or compete, I’m going to put guys out there that are going to play hard and compete and at least give us a chance. If you’re going to go down, at least go down fighting. That’s my nature and I want that to be my team’s nature.”
Nuggets: Juancho Hernangomez (illness), Tyler Lydon (G league assignment) and two-way players Monte Morris and Torrey Craig were inactive.
Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made his season debut after missing the first three games for personal reasons. He started and played 10:37, scoring two points on 1-of-6 shooting. … Charlotte was without Nicolas Batum (sprained left elbow), Michael Carter-Williams (knee soreness) and Julyan Stone (strained left hamstring). … Treveon Graham left in the first half with a bruised right quadriceps but returned to play 11 minutes after halftime. … Howard picked up two fouls in the first 4:33.
One game after missing all nine free throw attempts at Milwaukee, Howard shot 7 of 11 at the line. He also became the first Charlotte player since Emeka Okafor in 2007 with four consecutive 15-rebound games. Howard had seven rebounds, including three offensive boards, in the first quarter despite being limited by two early fouls.
COLLEGE COACHES COME TO VISIT
Two prominent college coaches were seated courtside. Kentucky’s John Calipari and North Carolina’s Roy Williams were on hand to watch former players. Calipari was checking in on four former Wildcats: Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk, and Denver’s Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles. Marvin Williams and Hornets teammate Marcus Paige played for Williams at North Carolina. Calipari and Williams greeted one another with a hug and brief conversation just before tipoff. Roy Williams received a warmer welcome when shown on the video board.
WALKER FOR 3
Walker hit two 3-pointers to give him 800 for his career, which ranks second in franchise history behind Dell Curry’s 929. “I’ve worked hard to get to this point, so it’s an honor,” Walker said.
Nuggets: Visit the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
Hornets: Host the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
By JUSTIN PARKER, Associated Press
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