Jeremy Brevard, USA Today Sports

The Charlotte Hornets move into first place in Southeast with win over Miami

The Charlotte Hornets, behind 18 points each from Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams along with Nicolas Batum's fifth career triple-double cruise, past Miami to move into first place in the Southeast Division

CHARLOTTE---Nicolas Batum finished a triple-double while Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams each scored 18 points as Charlotte defeated Miami, 99-81, at Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday.

With the win, the Hornets leapfrog Miami and move into first place in the Southeast Division. Charlotte now is 13-8 overall and is one game behind Cleveland for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Hornets started the season with three straight losses, including a 10-point defeat in the season opener on the road against the Heat, but have won eight of their last 10 games. 

Charlotte has never won the Southeast Division (Miami has won it seven times) and have only reached the postseason twice since the current divisional format was created prior to the 2004-05 season--when professional basketball returned to the Queen City. 

Hassan Whiteside dunked less than two minutes in the game to give Miami a, 6-4, lead. Charlotte then seized control. The Hornets closed the first quarter on a 23-11 run and never looked back.

Batum was a key in the surge, particularly with his passing.

“His passing was unbelievable,” Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford said. “That is just talent. Nobody teaches anybody to do that. When he catches the ball he knows where everybody is.”

Paced by seven three-pointers while committing only two turnovers, Charlotte led by 20 at intermission and 26 after three quarters to remove any doubt in the outcome. The Hornets are now 10-3 in Buzz City this season. 

“I thought we did a good job in terms of the game plan things,” Clifford said. “A big thing with them is their scoring in the paint...and they get to the free throw line a lot. A lot of that is the individual things with Wade and Bosh and I thought our guys were locked in.”

Charlotte travels to Memphis on Friday with tip set for 8 p.m. at FedExForum. The Hornets are 3-5 away from home this season.