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Hornets wrapup: Charlotte starter leaves with injury as Dallas All-Star shines and Mavericks rookie from Gastonia plays in his 2nd NBA game

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Wednesday’s 104-93 Charlotte Hornets’ home loss to the Dallas Mavericks that dropped the team to 6-6 overall:

… The Hornets lost their winning record, a four-game winning streak and possibly their leader in the loss; Forward Gordon Hayward left the game late in the third quarter with a hip strain and did not return. Hornets coach James Borrego called Hayward “day-to-day” after the contest but said he was travelling with the team late Wednesday night for its upcoming road trip to Tampa to play the Toronto Raptors.

… Before the game, Borrego said he couldn’t remember playing against Dallas’ Kristaps Porzingis. It’s because he hadn’t as Hornets coach until Wednesday night. Porzingis’ last game against Charlotte came on Nov. 7, 2017 when Steve Clifford was Hornets’ coach. After Wednesday when Porzingis started and scored 16 points in his first game of the season, he’s played in eight of 19 possible career games against the Hornets.

… The story for Dallas was All-Star Luka Doncic. Limited to 12 points, two rebounds and five assists and 24 minutes in Charlotte’s 118-99 win in Dallas on Dec. 30, Doncic had a near triple-double of 34 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists on Wednesday. “Give Doncic credit,” Borrego said. “He played a great game tonight, Porzingis’ length and his size obviously was a factor out there. No excuses, they played well.”

… Dallas was without five players due to health and safety protocols for Wednesday’s game: Jalen Brunson (eight games-one start), Dorian Finney-Smith (8-8), Maxi Kleber (9-3), Dwight Powell (9-6) and Josh Richardson (8-8).

Nate Hinton

… The loss of manpower helped Gastonia’s Nate Hinton get into the second NBA game of his career; Hinton, an undrafted free agent who played at Houston, got in for the final 1:15 of the Mavericks’ victory without recording any statistics. He’d previously made his NBA debut in the final 18 seconds of Dallas’ 118-108 loss at Chicago on Jan. 3 when he took and missed a 3-point shot. Hinton is a former Forestview and Gaston Day standout who became Gastonia’s sixth NBA player this season.

… Dallas roared out to a 32-16 lead after the first quarter and eventually built a lead 18 points four times in the second quarter and 22 in the third quarter. “We’ve got to start the game better and be more aggressive and attack the rim,” Hornets forward P.J. Washington said. Charlotte is 4-1 when it leads after the first quarter and 2-5 when it trails so far this season.

… Terry Rozier led Charlotte with 18 points. Hayward added 16, Washington 16 and Devonte’ Graham 12. Rookie LaMelo Ball ahd four points, seven rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes.

What’s next: Charlotte visits Toronto in Tampa on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The teams play again in Tampa, which is Toronto’s designated home this season due to Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions, on Saturday night at 7:30.