Hayward, Ball lead Hornets’ surge past Wizards

Charlotte won 124-117 in its NBA In-Season Tournament debut

Hornets center Mark Williams looks to pass the ball while Wizards forwards John Butler Jr. (21) and Kyle Kuzma (33) defend during Charlotte's win Friday in Washington. (Stephanie Scarbrough / AP Photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gordon Hayward scored 27 points, LaMelo Ball added 25 and the Charlotte Hornets shook off their 3-point shooting struggles just in time to earn a 124-117 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

Mark Williams added 21 points and career-high 21 rebounds for the Hornets, who made a winning debut in the NBA In-Season Tournament with a road victory in East Group B.

Charlotte entered Friday as the Eastern Conference’s worst team from beyond the arc and made a season-low six 3s on 28 attempts.

But between Ball and Hayward, the Hornets sank four of their last five from deep to split a home-and-home set after Washington’s win on Wednesday.

Williams led Charlotte to a dominating 64-36 edge on the glass that helped keep the game close until the shooting finally came around.

Kyle Kuzma scored 17 points for Washington, failing to reach 20 for the first time this season. Tyus Jones added 16 as the Wizards fell to 0-2 in Group B play.

After starting the game down 15-3 and trailing by as many as 16 in the second quarter, Charlotte responded to take two brief third quarter leads before edging in front again when Ball’s fourth 3 from the left wing made it 110-109 with 4:24 left in the game.

Ball fed Hayward for another 3 before Hayward converted a three-point play following a leaner in traffic to stretch it to 116-111.

The Hornets missed their final 3, but Williams was there for a follow-up dunk to put an exclamation point on Charlotte’s late surge.

The Hornets visit New York on Sunday.