Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Sunday’s road game vs. Boston Celtics

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Sunday’s 116-86 Hornets’ road loss to the Boston Celtics that dropped Charlotte to 25-24 overall:

… Charlotte actually had a strong start, leading 16-7 and 18-9 in the middle of the first quarter and 26-25 after the first quarter. But once the Celtics took a 28-26 lead, the Hornets never led again and was outscored 117-68 over the last 3 1-2 quarters of the game. “We struggled,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “We’ve got to find some rhythm offensively.”

… Before the game, Borrego said the loss of LaMelo Ball (right wrist fracture), Malik Monk (right ankle) and Gordon Hayward (right foot) could create opportunities for his deep reserves. “I just see this as a wonderful opportunity for our organization, for our group,” Borrego said. “As I’ve said, we are not going anywhere. That’s the statement we’re here to make. We have guys that are capable of getting this done. There’s no complaining here.”

… After the strong start, Charlotte suffered its worst loss of the season and its first loss by 30 or more points in more than a year; Indiana beat the Hornets 119-80 on Feb. 25, 2020 in the team’s last defeat by 30 or more points.

… Charlotte’s starting lineup of Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier at guards and Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington at forwards and Bismack Biyombo at center was the Hornets’ 13th starting lineup in 49 games this season. The franchise has used 20 or more starting lineups in eight previous seasons, with a high of 28 starting lineups in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons when the expansion Bobcats were in their second and third year, respectively. The least starting lineups? Four in the 2000-01 season in which Charlotte advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

… Rozier led the Hornets on Sunday with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Graham added 11 points and Bridges 10. The bench, which got 107 minutes, produced 34 points. That included five minutes from rookie Grant Riller, the former College of Charleston standout who was making his NBA debut.

… Borrego is seeking more offensive production with Ball, Monk and Hayward out of action. And P.J. Washington seems a logical candidate. An 11.7 points per game scorer this season and a 12.0 for his two-year career, Washington has recently been slumping. Including Sunday’s game, he’s averaging 6.2 points while shooting 28.8 percent overall and 23.3 percent on 3-pointers in his last six games.

… Boston (25-25) had six double digit scorers, led by former Duke standout Jayson Tatum’s 22 points. Kemba Walker, who holds many Hornets career records, had 12 points.

What’s next: The Hornets continue their six-game road trip on Wednesday at Oklahoma City at 8 p.m. The road trip concludes Friday at Milwaukee (9 p.m.). Charlotte then plays 14 of its last 21 games at home, starting with an April 11 1 p.m. game against Atlanta.