Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Sunday’s home game vs. Portland Trail Blazers

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Sunday’s 109-101 Hornets’ home win over the Portland Trail Blazers that improved Charlotte to 28-28 overall:

… The Hornets played without LaMelo Ball (broken right wrist), Malik Monk (right ankle), Gordon Hayward (right foot), Nate Darling (right ankle) and Devonte’ Graham (left quad contusion) but got P.J. Washington back (right ankle) after three games.

… Washington made his presence known immediately as he replaced starting center Vernon Carey, Jr., just 20 seconds into the game after Carey picked up two quick fouls. “I thought P.J. was great tonight,” Hornets head coach James Borrego said of Washington, who had 23 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes. “He felt like a starter the way he came in.”

… As good as Washington played, guard Terry Rozier played even better. After telling Borrego “We need this one,” Rozier scored 17 of his game-high 34 points in the first quarter as the Hornets built a 44-24 first quarter lead. Rozier also finished with eight rebounds and 10 assists. “It’s got to be one of his beset performances as a Hornet,” Borrego said.

… Carey, who had 21 points and six rebounds in his first career start on Friday night, finished with zero points and one rebound in seven minutes.

… Charlotte snapped a season-high four-game losing streak and it came on a day in which fellow playoff contenders Atlanta (over Indiana), New York (over New Orleans) and Miami (over Brooklyn) also picked up victories. It means Charlotte remains in eighth place of the conference standings; The Hornets are 11 games behind conference leader Philadelphia, 9 1-2 games behind second-place Brooklyn, seven games behind third-place Milwaukee, 2 1-2 games behind Boston and Atlanta, two games behind New York and a half-game behind Miami.

… Portland had beaten Charlotte seven straight games before Sunday; The Blazers last previous loss to the Hornets came on Jan. 18, 2017 in Charlotte.

… The Hornets’ 44-point first quarter tied their highest opening quarter of the season.

… Charlotte built as much as a 29-point lead in the third quarter (90-61) before Carmelo Anthony’s scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Blazers got as close as nine points (104-95). “He’s a great player,” Borrego said of Anthony, who averages 25.3 points per game all-time against Charlotte including his personal career-high of 62 points against the Hornets on Jan. 24, 2014.

… The victory was the 100th head coaching win of Borrego’s career. And the milestone caught him by surprise. “Our players made me aware of it with a little bath,” Borrego said.

… Holding a lead after any of the first three quarters is a great indicator of success for Charlotte this season; The Hornets are 19-10 if they lead after the first quarter, 20-2 if they lead at halftime and 23-1 if they lead after the third quarter.

What’s next: The Hornets visit the New York Knicks on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.