Garland, Cavaliers edge past Hornets in 114-108 win

Charlotte was outscored by 14 points in the fourth quarter

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots over Charlotte Hornets guard Dennis Smith Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, March 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

CHARLOTTE — Darius Garland led the Cavaliers with 28 points on Sunday night in the Spectrum Center as Cleveland clawed back from a 16-point second-half deficit to top the Charlotte Hornets 114-108.

Terry Rozier posted a team-high 27 points for the Hornets (22-48), who let an 89-81 fourth-quarter lead slip away as the Cavs (43-27) outscored Charlotte by 14 in the final quarter.

“In the fourth quarter they were terrific,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of the Cavaliers. “That team right there, they can be a factor in this whole thing. That’s a great team.”

With less than a minute left to play, Donovan Mitchell put the Cavaliers up by three before Rozier missed a potential game-tying shot; Garland then made one of his two free throws to make it a two-possession game as Rozier’s airball on the subsequent drive spelled the Hornets’ doom.

Mitchell finished with 23 points for Cleveland while Evan Mobley recorded 18 points and nine rebounds. Returning from an injury, Ricky Rubio had nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.

P.J. Washington had 19 points as Nick Richards notched 15 points and 12 rebounds for Charlotte. The short-handed Hornets were playing without Kelly Oubre Jr. — ruled out before the game with back tightness — while Mark Williams missed his third consecutive game with a thumb injury.

“That’s where missing Kelly was big…It’s hard to get to 48 minutes sometimes when you have that many guys out,” Clifford said. “We played our asses off. We didn’t get a great whistle. We had the three turnovers there that were critical but there were a lot of reasons we lost — one is that they (Cavs) are really good.”

One bright spot for Charlotte was Dennis Smith Jr, who had 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in place of Oubre.

The Hornets will get a chance to square off with Cleveland again in the Spectrum Center as the two teams battle it out on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. 

Charlotte has now lost five of its past seven games after putting together a five-game winning streak. 

In the Eastern Conference standings, only Detroit (15-53) has a worse record than the Hornets. At the same time, the Cavs have climbed to fourth-place in the standings as they prepare to make a playoff run.