Surging Hornets edge past Pelicans for 5th straight win

Charlotte has now matched its season-high win streak

Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas attempts to block the shot of Hornets center Montrezl Harrell during Charlotte's win on Monday. (Rusty Jones / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — Despite trailing the Pelicans for much of Monday night, the Hornets closed out the game on a 19-8 run to pick up their fifth consecutive victory in a 106-103 win at Spectrum Center. 

LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier each scored a team-high 17 points for Charlotte (37-35), while CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas posted 27 points and 24 points for New Orleans (30-42), respectively. 

The Hornets are now one game behind the eighth-place Brooklyn (38-34) in the Eastern Conference standings with just 10 games left on the regular season schedule.

Charlotte coach James Borrego was quick to credit his team’s fourth-quarter defense for the win

“The bottom line is (the Pelicans) scored 19 in the fourth quarter so our defense got it done,” he said. “Even when we went dry, we kept getting stops. … We couldn’t convert on the other end, but it was our defense that got us home tonight and we found enough offense.”

With just under a minute left in the game, Mason Plumlee (11 points, 10 rebounds) used a powerful dunk to push the Hornets’ narrow lead to 102-99. McCollum responded with a quick layup nine seconds later. Both teams would score again in a matter of 18 seconds before Ball hit a mid-range floater. 

The Pelicans were then unable to set up their offense in order to attempt a game-tying 3-pointer as the final buzzer sounded. 

“I thought we really executed well in those last four minutes,” Plumlee said. “I was just looking at the numbers — our defense showed up when we needed it. We finally held them to one shot down there at the end, so that gave us a really good chance. CJ still made some plays, but we did enough to pull it out tonight.”

Miles Bridges added 16 points and five assists for the Hornets. Coming off the bench, Montrezl Harrell posted 12 points and Isaiah Thomas recorded one of his best games yet as a Hornet with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. 

Thomas — a 12th-year NBA veteran and two-time All-Star — will  be spending the rest of the season wearing purple and teal, league sources confirmed Monday night. After 10-day contracts with the Lakers, Mavericks and Hornets, Thomas has signed a deal to keep him in Charlotte the rest of the year. He’s averaged 10 points and the Horners are 7-2 since he’s joined the roster. 

The Hornets will look for their sixth straight win on Wednesday as the New York Knicks (30-41) come to town for the third meeting between the teams this season. Charlotte picked up a 104-96 home win in November and a 97-87 road win in January.

“We’re young but we don’t care,” Bridges said. “We’re trying to make the playoffs and we’re a hungry team. We’re going to continue to play like this and keep putting the NBA on notice.”