CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Triple-doubles, flying elbows, two ejections and a revved-up crowd cheering until the end.
Even Michael Jordan was there sitting courtside.
It may only be December, but Friday night's game between the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls had all of the intensity of a postseason game.
Nic Batum had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double of the season, and the Hornets beat the Bulls 103-91 for their third straight victory.
"That was like a playoff game tonight," Batum said. "The crowd was into it and it was a good team in front of us. That's a great game for us to get a win against."
It didn't come easily.
Charlotte had to hold off the Bulls in the fourth quarter in a game that ended with Robin Lopez and Taj Gibson getting ejected.
The normally mild-mannered Lopez could face a suspension from the league after he simultaneously elbowed Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams in the face — using both elbows — with 38 seconds left and the outcome already decided. Gibson, who had picked up a technical foul for arguing a call earlier in the fourth quarter, got his second and was ejected when he debated the call.
After watching the replay, referees sent Lopez to the locker room with a flagrant 2 foul.
[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]
Lopez wouldn't say exactly what set him off.
"It was pretty contentious out there. We had tempers flare," Lopez said. "Basketball is a passionate game and I play with passion."
Gibson was more outspoken.
"They can't let the game get out of hand like that," Gibson said of the referees. "Guys are throwing elbows and throwing cheap shots. That's what I said, 'They got to do a better job.'"
Kemba Walker chipped in with 20 points, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for Charlotte (17-13).
The Hornets had a crucial four-point swing go their way with 3 minutes left when Batum hustled down the floor to block the 7-foot Lopez's layup off a fast break. Walker then converted a reverse layup on the other end.
Despite the efforts of Jimmy Butler, who drained back-to-back jumpers, the Bulls could never quite claw back in it after that.