Hornets playoffs: Part 7 – Lame duck Hornets again advance to conference semifinals in 2002
This is the seventh in a series on Charlotte’s previous NBA playoff seasons. Here’s a look at other stories in the 10-part series:
Part 1 – The Hive Is Alive as the Hornets win their first postseason series in 1993. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-1-the-hive-is-alive-as-the-hornets-win-their-first-postseason-series-in-1993/
Part 2 – Homecourt no advantage against Michael Jordan’s late-season return in 1995. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-2-homecourt-no-advantage-against-michael-jordans-late-season-return-in-1995/
Part 3 – Hard Ball runs into a motivated former Charlotte All-Star in 1997. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-3-hard-ball-runs-into-a-motivated-former-charlotte-all-star-in-1997/
Part 4 – Hornets dispatch Hawks, hand “Last Dance” Bulls their first playoff loss in 1998. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-4-hornets-dispatch-hawks-hand-last-dance-bulls-their-first-playoff-loss-in-1998/
Part 5 – Tragedy mars season, then Iverson too much to overcome in 2000 playoffs. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-5-tragedy-mars-season-then-iverson-too-much-to-overcome-in-2000-playoffs/
Part 6 – Headband fever sparks longest playoff run in season of off-court turmoil in 2001. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-6-headband-fever-sparks-longest-playoff-run-in-season-of-off-court-turmoil-in-2001/
Part 8 – Early season trade sparks expansion franchise into playoffs in 2010
Part 9 – First-year head coach, offseason free agent acquisition led to playoffs in 2014
Part 10 – Franchise snaps long postseason losing streak with 2016 postseason play
By Richard Walker
The Charlotte Hornets survived off-court issues throughout the 2000-01 season to make the franchise’s longest playoff run in history.
The 2001-02 season was nearly a repeat performance as the team found out it would be moving to New Orleans even as it soldiered on to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Early in the season, Jamal Mashburn was lost for 42 games with an abdominal strain as the Hornets started 7-8 and 6-9 in the first two months.
But with Baron Davis earning a first All-Star appearance, the Hornets had winning records in January (8-6), February (7-6), March (10-5) and April (6-4) to enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
When Mashburn returned, he played well enough in March to earn NBA Player of the Month honors.
P.J. Brown, Elden Campbell, David Wesley, Lee Nailon, Jamaal Magloire, Stacey Augmon and George Lynch also were key contributors as the team dealt with off-the-court issues on a seemingly daily basis throughout the season.
Rumors were rampant about what the franchise may or may not do – owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge visited Louisville, Ky., and Norfolk, Va., before the season began – and coach Paul Silas and his players had to answer a multitude of questions since Shinn and Wooldridge weren’t talking to the media.
The team’s late season surge came after the Hornets organization officially filed papers to move to New Orleans on Jan. 17, 2002.
With a NBA Board of Directors meeting slated for May to determine the franchise’s future, the Hornets knocked off the Orlando Magic three games to one in the first round series.
Davis continued to emerge as a star as he outdueled a pair of North Carolina high schoolers in Tracy McGrady of Durham Mt. Zion Academy and Darrell Armstrong of Gastonia Ashbrook in the series.
In the series opener, Lynch’s 15-footer with 4:17 left gave Charlotte the lead for good of an 80-79 home victory that saw Davis scored 10 of 28 points in the fourth quarter in front of 9,505 fans.
In the second game three days later, McGrady scored 31 points and Armstrong 13 as Orlando took a 110-103 overtime victory that proved to be the last time Mashburn would play in Charlotte. Originally called “flu-like virus” by team officials, Mashburn would be sidelined the rest of the postseason with vertigo.
With the series tied heading to Orlando, Davis had back-to-back triple-doubles (33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists and 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists) as Charlotte won 110-100 in overtime in Game 3 and 102-85 in Game 4 to take the series three games to one.
Advancing to meet eventual conference champion New Jersey, Charlotte dropped the first two games at the old Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., despite holding leads in the second half of each game.
In Game 3 back in Charlotte, the Hornets led wire-to-wire in a 115-97 victory with Davis picking up 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, Wesley 22 points and Lynch 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Two days later – on May 11, 2002 – the NBA officially approved Charlotte’s move to New Orleans.
It made the Hornets a lame duck franchise for its last two games, including an emotional Game 4 at home.
That home finale, played in front of 13,864 fans during a 12:30 p.m. nationally-televised Sunday tipoff, resulted in an 89-79 loss as Jason Kidd had 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Nets.
The end came on May 15, 2002 in a 103-95 loss at New Jersey in which the Hornets led at halftime and were ahead 89-87 with 5:04 left in the game.
The 2002 Hornets
Record: 44-38 (4-5 in playoffs)
Head coach: Paul Silas
Top scorers: Jamal Mashburn 21.5, Baron Davis 18.1, David Wesley 14.2, Elden Campbell 13.9, Lee Nailon 10.8, Jamaal Magloire 8.5, P.J. Brown 8.4
Top rebounders: Brown 9.8, Campbell 6.9, Mashburn 6.1, Magloire 5.6, Davis 4.3
Notes: The Hornets owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge claimed losses of $15 million in the 2000-01 season and $20 million in the 2001-02 season when they presented their case to move to the NBA Board of Governors.