CHARLOTTE — In the regular season finale with Play-In Tournament implications, the Hornets did their part by beating the Washington Wizards 124-108 in Charlotte.
Unfortunately, the Eastern Conference’s three other Play-In Tournament teams also won their final games of the season, meaning Charlotte (43-39) will be the 10th seed and play in the 9-10 game in Atlanta against the Hawks (43-39) on Wednesday night.
The eighth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (44-38) will play in Brooklyn against the seventh-seeded Nets (44-38) on Tuesday, with the winner entering the Eastern Conference bracket as the No. 7 seed and the loser facing the winner of Charlotte-Atlanta for the eighth seed on Friday.
Charlotte, led by Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball, used a 15-2 run in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Wizards. The Hornets closed the regular season winning 11 of 15 games, including their last three entering the Play-In Tournament.
“Today was very reflective of our season in general,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “You go through highs and lows and you figure it out together. That’s what we did this season. In an 82-game season, there were highs and lows, and we got better throughout the season — just like we did tonight. In the game, we got better as the game went along and we figured it out and that’s what it takes.”
Rozier led the Hornets with 25 points and six assists, while Ball was an assist shy of a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Both players — along with Isaiah Thomas with 14 points from 5-of-8 shooting off the bench — did most of their damage late and from behind the arc.
“The main thing is that we just wanted to take care of today and do what we needed to do,” Rozier said. “It was kind of sluggish and kind of slow at the beginning, but we figured it out. It’s about putting 48 minutes together; it ain’t gonna look perfect all the time. We’re feeling good heading into the Play-In, so we’ll be ready on Wednesday.”
Jalen McDaniels added 14 points and six rebounds for Charlotte, and Miles Bridges posted nine points and seven rebounds.
Rui Hachimura led Washington with 21 points, Corey Kispert had 20 points and Daniel Gafford added 13.
Charlotte shot 53.9% from the field while limiting Washington to 44.7% shooting. The Hornets made 18 of their 33 (54.5%) 3-point attempts, led by 6 of 7 by Ball.
“It feels like we’re playing with each other more and more. Everybody is getting each other’s game and starting to know our roles,” Ball said on his team’s recent hot stretch. “I feel like we’re going to keep getting better from here.”