Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Monday night’s home game vs. Sacramento Kings

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Monday’s 122-116 Hornets’ home win over the Sacramento Kings that improved Charlotte to 20-18 overall:

Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball is presented with his NBA rookie of the month awards before Monday’s game by general manager Mitch Kupchak (right).

… Charlotte continued its late-game excellence, outscoring Sacramento 19-6 in the final five minutes to improve to 13-5 in games in which the margin is plus/minus five points with five minutes to play. “It’s a great win for us going into this road trip,” said Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, whose team begins a five-game, eight-day Western Conference road trip on Wednesday.

… Hayward and Terry Rozier made the big plays down the stretch. Rozier scored nine points in the final 5:11 and Hayward five in the final 1:33, including back-to-back lays to steer the Hornets to victory. Hayward had steal and dunk while being fouled with 1:33 left that erased a 111-110 deficit and turned it into a 113-111 lead. Hayward then had an assist to Rozier for a 3-pointer with 54.3 seconds left for a 116-113 lead. “More than anything, they just gutted it out,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said of his team’s late surge. “It was a game of resiliency and fight and determination.”

… Rookie LaMelo Ball was honored before the game as Charlotte general manager presented him with his January and February NBA rookie of the months awards. While Rozier’s 26 points and Hayward’s 25 led the way on Monday, Ball had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists.

… A defensive-minded unit of forwards Miles Bridges and Cody Martin and center Bismack Biyombo helped turn the game’s momentum in the fourth quarter. “It’s a group I’ll go to defensively,” Borrego said of a group that helped Charlotte limit Sacramento to 20 points in the fourth quarter after the Kings had scored 37, 30 and 29 in the first three quarters.

… D’Aaron Fox had a game-high 29 points and Buddy Hield added 23 points for the Kings (15-24), who have Shelby’s Alvin Gentry as an associate head coach and Gastonia’s Hassan Whiteside as a reserve center. Whiteside wasn’t on the trip though and has missed eight straight games – including both games against Charlotte – due to health and safety protocols related to COVID.

… Charlotte’s Monday win marked the third time this season the Hornets have rallied to win after trailing in each of the first three quarters and after trailing by as many as 10 points in the game. Previously, the Hornets had pulled off wins in that circumstance at New Orleans on Jan. 8 and at Orlando on Jan. 24.

… The rally for a victory after trailing by 10 or more points marked the ninth time Charlotte has done so this season. The record in a single season? Thirteen comeback wins in the 2018-19 season – or the franchise’s first year under Borrego.

… When the Hornets start Monday’s starting lineup of Ball, Rozier, Hayward, P.J. Washington and Cody Zeller, they are 7-2 this season. It’s by far the best record of the team’s 12 starting lineups it has used this season.


What’s next: Charlotte begins a five-game, eight-day Western road trip that starts at Denver on Wednesday at 9 p.m. and continues on Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers, Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, next Monday at San Antonio and March 24 at Houston.