Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Thursday night’s home game vs. Detroit Pistons
By Richard Walker
Notes and observations from Thursday’s 105-102 Hornets’ home win over the Detroit Pistons that improved Charlotte to 18-18 overall:
… Terry Rozier was having a subpar performance until the final 3:11 of Thursday’s game. Rozier scored 12 of Charlotte’s last 15 points during that last 3:11 to finish with 17 points overall. In his closing stretch, he had a four-point play, a three-point play and a 3-pointer. “He’s very comfortable in those moments,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of Rozier. “It’s like he’s more locked in the closer the game.”
… Thursday’s game was the first home game this season with actual fans as 500 Novant Health Care staffers were special guests of the team at the Spectrum Center. “It’s great to have some people,” Hornets forward Gordon Hayward said. “Glad that they were able to go to the game and see us win. Looking forward to having even more fans.”
… Another first-time “fan” was team owner Michael Jordan, who sat courtside opposite the Hornets’ bench in his first in-person game of the year. “It’s always good playing in front of the GOAT,” Rozier said in reference to Jordan, who many consider the greatest of all time as a player. “He was here this morning. It’s always good to get a win in front of him.”
… P.J. Washington led the Hornets with 20 points and nine rebounds. Hayward and Rozier added 17 points, Cody Zeller 15 and LaMelo Ball seven points, five rebounds and nine assists. It was the first game since the season opener that Charlotte has had all of its expected rotation players available to play. “Before the break, wer were dealing with a lot of injuries,” Rozier said. “We want to keep that going.”
… Earlier Thursday, USA Basketball announced Hayward was selected as a USA Basketball men’s national team finalist. As a finalist, Hayward is now a part of the 2021 USA National Team roster from which the 12-member U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team will be selected for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
… Charlotte’s win over Detroit is the team’s 11th straight over the Pistons, which is the second-longest winning streak over another NBA team in franchise history. Only a 13-game winning streak over Orlando is longer.
… The Pistons had three players with in-state connections in Cahrlotte native Saddiq Bey, Fayetteville’s Dennis Smith, Jr., and former North Carolina national champion Wayne Ellington. Bey, who had 14 points, is the son of former Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball player Drewana Bey (1995-98). Smith played at for NCISAA state champion at Fayetteville Trinity Christian before playing one season at N.C. State. And Ellington helped the Tar Heels win the 2009 NCAA title. (I once said on a local radio station that I thought Ellington’s effortless jumper was comparable to former Charlotte Hornets All-Star Glen Rice and Ellington is now in his 12th NBA season.)
What’s next: Charlotte plays the Toronto Raptors on Saturday at 7 p.m. in a game where 3,000 fans will be allowed into the Spectrum Center. The Hornets lost two previous “road” games to the Raptors earlier this season in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 14 and Jan. 16.