Rozier, Ball lead Hornets to second straight win over Bucks

The Bucks were held to their lowest point total since Dec. 18

Hornets guard LaMelo Ball shoots late in the fourth quarter to take the lead against the Bucks during Charlotte's home win Monday over Milwaukee. (Jacob Kupferman / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — LaMelo Ball scored the decisive basket on an acrobatic floater with 15.4 seconds left to lift Charlotte over Milwaukee on Monday night, giving the Hornets two wins in three days over the defending NBA champions.

The Bucks (26-17) quickly turned over the ball on their ensuing drive before Miles Bridges provided the Hornets (22-19) a pair of successful free throws to cap their 103-99 home victory. 

“I’ve always done floaters my whole life — going left, right, straight, forward or backwards,” said Ball, who finished with 23 points and five rebounds. “When I was young, I always played up, playing against grown people who were bigger so you can’t really get any shot ups. I just always just did little floats.”

Charlotte has now won three games in a row and seven of their last nine. Monday’s win against Milwaukee was done without Kelly Oubre Jr., who was placed in the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols earlier in the day. 

Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 27 points and added seven rebounds and four assists. Bridges had 17 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, while Gordon Hayward scored 14 points with four rebounds. 

“After the last game, we could have easily come here thinking that it was going to be another easy one,” Rozier said of attempting to follow up Saturday’s 114-106 win over the Bucks. “With these defending champs, we kind of knew what we were in for and we came out more aggressive. That’s just us paying attention to detail and trying to be physical with guys.”

In a scaled-down showing compared to his 43-point game on Saturday, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks. Khris Middleton provided 27 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists. Jordan Nwora added 18 points for Milwaukee.

The Hornets got off to an inspired start, outscoring the Bucks 28-19 in the first quarter thanks to Rozier. The tables turned in the second quarter as Antetokounmpo and the Bucks roared back to take a one-point advantage into halftime. 

An 18-2 run midway through the third quarter helped the Hornets regain the lead and proved to be enough to counteract Milwaukee’s fourth-quarter comeback efforts.

The Hornets will now aim for their fourth win in a row Wednesday when they travel to Philadelphia to challenge the Sixers (23-16).

“If we want to keep climbing, keep getting better and move up the standings in the Eastern Conference, this is one of those wins that can propel you into that momentum,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “Or you can be a team that’s satisfied and goes, ‘Hey, we beat the NBA champions two games in a row so let’s relax and not get better.’ The group right now just responded with ‘let’s get better.’”