Charlotte Hornets keep momentum going as bench shines in road performance at Dallas

By Richard Walker

For many years, the Dallas Mavericks have been a significant road block for the Charlotte Hornets.

The Mavericks once pinned 21 straight defeats on the franchise that remains a dubious for opponent excellence. Dallas also won 14 straight home games against the Hornets from 1999 to 2015.

But on Wednesday night, Charlotte used the momentum it gained from Sunday’s surprising home win over Brooklyn to play even better in a 118-99 win in Dallas that wasn’t even as close as the score indicates.

The Hornets improved to 2-2 on the season after winning a game that it once led by 31 points late in the third quarter.

“Today was really about getting better,” said Charlotte coach James Borrego, whose team continues a stretch of 10 games in 16 days on Friday at home against Memphis. “We’ve gotten better with each game. The goal is to get better with every game. That has to be the standard for us.”

Charlotte’s bench had its best night of the season as it rang up 42 first half points to lead the Hornets to a 68-57 lead at the break and finished with 60 points overall led by rookie LaMelo Ball (22 points, eight rebounds, five assists) and Miles Bridges (20 points, 16 rebounds).

Bridges’ 16 rebounds was a career high and Ball became the first Hornets rookie since Kemba Walker in 2012 to amass 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in a game.

“I think the sky’s the limit with our bench,” Bridges said. “We come in and play good defense and we get out in transition on offense.”

Starters Terry Rozier (18 points, five rebounds, three assists), Gordon Hayward (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists), P.J. Washington (11 points), Bismack Biyombo (nine points, six rebounds) and Devonte’ Graham (nine points) also were productive for the Hornets.

Charlotte never trailed after the score was tied at 26 late in the first quarter.

“We’re building something here,” Borrego said. “It’s game by game and it’s a long season. For us, it’s about building and growing. I believe we’ve found our footing. And we’re far from a finished product.”

Dallas (1-3), which was playing its home opener, had all of its five starters finish with a plus/minus of minus 21 or more, including All-Star Luka Doncic. Doncic missed six of 10 shots, including all five 3-pointers and finished with 12 points in 24 minutes.

And Mavericks reserve James Johnson hip checked Cody Martin with 2:40 left in the game that led to a skirmish in front of the Dallas bench. After a video review, game officials ejected both players.