Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Wednesday night’s road game vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
By Richard Walker
Notes and observations from Wednesday’s 135-102 Hornets’ road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves that improved Charlotte to 17-18 overall:
… Charlotte fell behind by 11 points early at 21-10 with 7:28 left in the first quarter. Coach James Borrego later said the team then “found its footing.” Did they ever as they closed the game on a 125-81 surge to take the franchise’s largest victory since April 8, 2018 when the Hornets won 137-1003 at Orlando.
… Veteran guard Terry Rozier sparked the win with an 18-point third quarter that gave him 31 points overall. Rozier had scored 74 points on 27 of 64 shooting (eight of 30 3-pointers) in the first five games of the West Coast road trip but hit 12 of 21 shots on Wednesday, including six of 12 3-pointers.
… Charlotte started its 12th starting lineup of the 35-game season as Gordon Hayward returned after missing two games with a right hand contusion. “I do think there’s a level of comfort with Gordon out there for him,” Borrego said of Rozier. Terry “cam out and was aggressive.”
… The Hornets finish the first half of the season with a 17-18 record with their 37-game second half schedule slated to begin on March 11. They will enter Thursday’s final day of the first half tied with Miami and Toronto for sixth place in an Eastern Conference race where fourth to 13th place is separated by 4 1-2 games. “I think we put a lot of people on watch,” Rozier said of the team’s first half play. “But our job is nowhere close to done.”
… The two-game sweep of Minnesota – Charlotte won 120-114 on Feb. 12 – concluded the first sweep of an opponent this season. And their 36-point margin of victory was the largest two-game sweep margin since 45 points in a two-game sweep of Denver in the 2014-15 season.
… Gordon Hayward added 23 points, five rebounds and nine assists, LaMelo Ball 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Malik Monk 18 points, P.J. Washington 16 points and nine rebounds and Miles Bridges 13 points and 10 rebounds.
… The only bad news in the victory came early in the fourth quarter when Washington limped off with a right ankle injury and did not return. “We’ll see how he looks,” Borrego said of Washington. “Hopefully, we have some time to get him right.”
… Ball continues to draw attention and pick up honors. On Tuesday, he became the fifth rookie in franchise history to win Eastern Conference rookie of the month; The NBA has picked him the winner for both January and February. And on Wednesday, he was selected to the 2021 Rising Stars U.S. Team for All-Star Weekend in Atlanta. But due to limitations of having All-Star events all on one night, the Rising Stars Challenge will not be played.
What’s next: Charlotte resumes the season on March 11 at home against Detroit. It’ll be the first game where fans will be allowed to attend games at Spectrum Center. “The biggest thing is getting our rest, getting healthy and getting all of our players back.”