Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Wednesday night’s road game vs. Phoenix Suns

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Wednesday’s 124-121 Hornets’ road win over the Phoenix Suns that improved Charlotte to 15-16 overall:

… Trailing by 17 points in the second quarter on the road against one of the hottest teams in the league is hardly a recipe for success. But that’s exactly the situation Charlotte faced before forging its sixth win after trailing by 10 or more points this season. “We look like we’re defeated, we’re down, we’re out and we kept fighting,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “Our team should be very proud of this win. Not comfortable or satisfied. This is a defining win for us. But we cannot be satisfied.”

… The game turned in the second quarter when Charlotte outscored Phoenix 26-10 in the final six minutes of the first half to close within 67-66 at halftime. Malik Monk was critical to the offensive push, as he scored 20 points in the second quarter. “The rim got real big in the second quarter,” Monk said. Added Bismack Biyombo: “You can’t keep exchanging baskets with a team like that. You have to get two, three stops in a row.”

… Monk led the Hornets with 29 points and he hit 10 of 21 field goals overall and five of 10 3-pointers. Gordon Hayward, who was upgraded from questionable on Tuesday to starting on Wednesday (right hand), finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists. LaMelo Ball added 20 points, four rebounds and assists, Miles Bridges 14 points and P.J. Washington, Cody Zeller and Terry Rozier 10 points each.

… Devin Booker had a game-high 33 points for Phoenix, including 16 in the first quarter. Chris Paul added 20 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

… Zeller didn’t play the last 8:12 of the game. The game said he had a hip contusion. It appeared Zeller injured himself in the third quarter when he fouled Phoenix’s Cameron Johnson on Johnson’s drive to the basket before falling hard underneath the basket.

… The win over Phoenix gives Charlotte a 2-5 record against the six NBA teams who currently have 20 or more victories; The Hornets are 0-3 against East-leading Philadelphia (21-11), 1-0 against Brooklyn (21-12), 0-2 against West-leading Utah (26-6), 1-0 against Phoenix (20-11) and haven’t yet played against the Los Angeles Clippers (23-10) and Los Angeles Lakers (22-11).

… Charlotte found out its 37-game second half schedule on Wednesday afternoon. The Hornets play 37 games in 67 days with seven back-to-backs and only two stretches of two straight days off. “It’s a dense schedule,” Borrego said. “Not just for us but for everybody in the league. There’s not going to be a lot of practice time. But that’s our season. Our guys are ready for it.”

… Also on Wednesday afternoon, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper eased restrictions on indoor facilities to the public, which would allow fans to attend Hornets’ home games. The Hornets released the following statement: “We look forward to working with Governor Cooper, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio and our state and county health officials to reopen Spectrum Center to fans soon.”

What’s next: Charlotte continues the six-game West Coast road trip that closes the first half of the season on Friday at Golden State. The trip continues at Sacramento (Sunday), Portland (Monday) and Minnesota (March 3).