CHARLOTTE — Led by a 35-point effort from Terry Rozier, the Charlotte Hornets trimmed a 35-point deficit to just four points in Saturday night’s home matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.
As dynamic as Charlotte’s comeback effort was, the Hornets ran out of time as the Grizzlies (40-18) clamped down defensively in the final two minutes for a 125-118 victory.
The Hornets’ struggles within the Spectrum Center continued — they haven’t won a home game since Jan. 28.
“We’ve played some good teams and we just have to play better — that’s the bottom line,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “We have a number of home games the rest of the way. We have to get off to better starts, and we’ll do that as the goal here, especially at home. We can protect our home court. We did it early in the season, and we just have to get back to it.”
LaMelo Ball added 25 points while newcomer Montrezl Harrell posted 20 points and nine rebounds for the Hornets (29-29), who dug themselves into an early 23-4 hole in the first quarter.
Harrell was efficient off the bench in his home debut with Charlotte, shooting 7 of 8 from the field in 29 minutes.
“I don’t really care about individual stats, especially when it comes to a loss, because I didn’t do everything I could do to help the team win,” the seventh-year center said. “That’s the overall goal for me.”
By the second quarter, the Grizzlies held a whopping 68-33 thanks to Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Morant had a team-high 26 points and six assists in the game for Memphis, while Bane scored 25 and Jackson posted 18 points with 10 rebounds.
The tide turned for the Hornets in the second half, however, as they outscored the Grizzlies by seven points in the third quarter and 17 points in the fourth. But the damage done in the opening 12 minutes proved to be too much for a Charlotte squad that has now lost seven of its past eight games.
The Hornets got as close as four points, 119-115, in what would have been a franchise record for the biggest comeback in team history.
“We’re all ballplayers and we all want to go out there to compete,” said Rozier, who also had 10 rebounds and nine assists. “With that being said, there are two more games til the All-Star Game, and we definitely want to get a win in both of them.”
Charlotte will travel to Minnesota for a Tuesday night game against the Timberwolves (29-27) before coming home for a Thursday night matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat (37-20).
The Hornets are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, one game behind the Brooklyn Nets (29-27) for the eighth spot.