CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Hornets used a 21-2 scoring run in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s home game against Washington to cruise to their fourth-consecutive victory and improve to 9-7 on the season.
The Hornets’ defense came alive in their 97-87 win, holding the Wizards (10-4) to a season-low scoring effort with 37% shooting from the field.
“The Wizards were the hottest team in the East. So, for us to get wins, that just shows what we’re capable of when everybody’s focused,” shooting guard Terry Rozier said. “As long as we stay focused, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Rozier had a team-high 19 points with eight rebounds while LaMelo Ball notched his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and a career-high 14 assists. Miles Bridges (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Mason Plumlee (11 points, 13 rebounds) also recorded double-doubles in the contest.
Down six points heading into halftime, Charlotte had been limited to just 45 first-half points. The Hornets trailed 63-54 with 5:34 left in the third quarter before their 21-2 run gave them a 85-75 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored the majority of his 14 points during Charlotte’s second-half surge while Jalen McDaniels continued his recent pattern of interior scoring off the bench.
Washington cut the lead to five, 81-76, before Charlotte extended its lead back to 13 points and closed out the game with ease. Hornets coach James Borrego said he is comforted to see that his team doesn’t have to score 100 points every single night in order to win games.
“We talked about that again this morning, if you look back at the three previous games, we have won those games with our defense,” Borrego said. “It kept us in this game and sustained us. Historically, we would’ve lost that game by 15 had we not scored in our normal output, but our defense kept us in it.”
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with a game-high 24 points while Daniel Gafford had 20 points and nine rebounds. Montrezl Harrell chipped in 15 points off the bench for Washtington to provide a needed scoring boost as starters Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Spencer Dinwiddie combined for only eight points.
Washington struggled with its long-range consistency, converting just eight of its 42 3-point attempts in the game while the Hornets set new season-lows for an opponent in field goal percentage and field goals made. Meanwhile, Charlotte was 10-for-32 in 3-point shooting and outscored the Wizard at the free-throw line 13-3.
Hornet center Mason Plumlee led his team in rebounds with 13 boards — all came after the halftime break where Borrego made some strategic adjustments on the floor.
“I just think the zone and mixing up our defensive coverages helped us, but the reality was we had our guards tagging down low and it’s just a mismatch,” Plumlee said. “I thought we did a great job in the second half and we cleaned up the backboard too, so that helped us.”
Charlotte will try for its fifth-straight victory Friday as the Hornets close out their four-game home stand with a matchup against Indiana (6-10).