Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Sunday night’s road game vs. Sacramento Kings

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Sunday’s 127-126 Hornets’ road win over the Sacramento Kings that improved Charlotte to 16-17 overall:

… For the third time this season, Charlotte found a way to win a game after trailing after the end of each of the first three quarters. And this one may have been the most surprising since the Hornets trailed 123-115 with 1:14 to play before closing the game on a 12-3 surge aided by the Kings missing six of their last seven throws in the final 2:47. “It goes back to that term resiliency,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “We got a little bit of help tonight. They had to miss some free throws to help us out. But we found a way to win.” The previous Charlotte wins after trailing after the first three quarters also came on the road – Jan. 8 at New Orleans and Jan. 24 at Orlando.

… Charlotte won behind P.J. Washington’s career-high 42 points, rookie LaMelo Ball’s 24 points, four rebounds and career-high 12 assists, Terry Rozier’s six points in the final 52.9 seconds and Malik Monk’s game-winning three-point play with 1.4 seconds left. “He’s a fighter,” Washington said of Monk. “At the end of the game, we wanted the ball in his hands.” Monk said the final possession was designed for either he or Washington to take the final shot with the team down by two points, but Ball said he was going to make sure Monk got the basketball. “I had to make something happen,” Monk said.

… The Hornets won on a night when they played without three starters – guard Devonte’ Graham (left knee patella discomfort), forward Gordon Hayward (right hand contusion) and Cody Zeller (left hip contusion). Hayward and Zeller went from doubtful to out about an hour before the 10 p.m. tip off.

… Without Hayward and Zeller, Borrego started the team’s 10th starting lineup of the season – guards Ball and Rozier, forwards Jalen McDaniels and P.J. Washington and center Bismack Biyombo. McDaniels was making his first start of the season. The most frequent lineup this year? Guards Rozier and Graham, forwards Hayward and Washington and center Biyombo for 12 games (5-7 record).

… Buddy Hield led Sacramento with 30 points. Former North Carolina standout Harrison Barnes added 28. The Kings (13-21) had nine of their first 10 free throws on Sunday before missing six of their last seven.

… Charlotte improved to 7-8 against the Western Conference this season with 15 more games scheduled to be played. The Hornets haven’t had a winning record against the West since 2010 (17-13) and haven’t had a non-losing record against the West since 2016 (15-15).

… The Hornets trailed 24-10 in the first quarter, which makes the comeback win their seventh of the season when trailing by 10 or more points. Five of the previous seven have come on the road, including both wins on the current West Coast road trip.

… With Washington scoring 42 points, Charlotte becomes the second NBA team this season with three players to score 40 or more points in a single game; Brooklyn is the other team with former Net Caris LaVert (43) and current Nets Kevin Durant (42) and Kyrie Irving (40) having 40-point games.

… Charlotte had three previous 40-point games from two players – Terry Rozier (42 at Cleveland and 41 against Minnesota) and Gordon Hayward (44 at Atlanta). The Hornets had never had three players score 40 or more points in a season until Sunday and had more than one 40-point scorer in a season in only one other season; Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson had 40-point games in the 2007-08 season.

What’s next: Charlotte continues the six-game West Coast road trip that closes the first half of the season on Monday at 10:30 p.m. at Portland. The trip concludes at Minnesota on Wednesday before the team’s All-Star break lasts until a March 11 home game against Detroit.