Hornets trounced by Suns in 133-99 home loss

Charlotte's blowout loss snapped a three-game winning streak

Phoenix Suns forward Jalen Smith blocks a shot by Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CHARLOTTE — Just two games after the Charlotte Hornets claimed their largest margin of victory of the season with a 24-point win over Houston, the team saw its largest margin of defeat Sunday night as Phoenix ran away with a 34-point win in the Spectrum Center.

The 133-99 loss to the Suns (28-8) — a squad that currently sits at second-place in the Western Conference standings — snapped a three-game winning streak for the Hornets (19-18), who now hold the seventh-place position in the Eastern Conference as the halfway mark of the NBA calendar approaches. 

“It felt like we sat back on our heels hoping that the crowd would just take us home, but we have to go make this happen for ourselves,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said.

LaMelo Ball’s team-high 17-point effort was the lowest point total by a leading Hornets scorer in any game this year.

Devin Booker led all players with 24 points and added seven rebounds, while Jalen Smith added 19 points and 12 rebounds. Former New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul provided a team-high 16 assists and Landry Shamet had a 5-for-8 3-point performance off the bench.

It was an overall muted shooting effort for the Hornets — the team was just 9 of 35 (25.7%) from behind the arc and missed nine of its 21 free throws. Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward have averaged a combined 34.8 points-per-game this season but brought a combined 17 points to the floor on Sunday. 

In his first game back in action since Dec. 23, Miles Bridges was limited to 10 points and three rebounds in his 26 minutes played. 

“I felt good out there. I’m just trying to get some rhythm,” Bridges said. “We have a great offense so me coming back changes some things. I just want to get adjusted and we need to get back to playing how we were playing when I wasn’t out there.”

The contest was the second time this season the Suns have defeated the Hornets by more than a 30-point margin as Phoenix handed Charlotte a 137-106 loss back on Dec. 19. 

Midway through the first quarter, the Suns wasted no time building up their lead as they jumped to a 34-17 lead. The Hornets managed to climb back within nine points heading into the second quarter, but an offensive barrage by the Suns engineered a 73-47 halftime advantage that Charlotte was unable to dig out of throughout the rest of the contest.

Phoenix was 17 for 41 in its 3-point attempts while also outrebounding Charlotte by a 52-35 margin.

“I’m definitely surprised when we don’t play to the best of our ability because we go into the games with the utmost confidence in ourselves and our game plan,” said Kelly Oubre Jr., who had 15 points off the bench. “This is obviously something we have to learn and grow from.”

The Hornets will now head to Washington on Monday night for their third game of the season against the Wizards (18-18). In their two prior meetings, Charlotte claimed a 97-87 home win (Nov. 17) and a 109-103 road win (Nov. 22).