Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Friday night’s game vs. Indiana Pacers

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Friday’s 108-105 Charlotte Hornets’ home win over the Indiana Pacers that improved Charlotte to 8-11 overall:

… It’s hard to make a 19th game in a 72-game season a “must win” for any team. But with six losses in the last seven games and games against Milwaukee, Miami, Philadelphia and Utah looming, the Hornets rightly felt a sense of urgency to shake off their recent doldrums. And while they did so, it wasn’t easy. Charlotte gave up the lead for the first time since the first quarter with 3:08 to play before outscoring Indiana 10-5 in the final 2:08 to take the victory. “I’m really proud of them,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said of the team’s late-game surge. “We’ve grown a lot in that area. Obviously, it’s one of our strengths right now. I think we’re probably one of the better clutch teams in the NBA. Our guys execute, play with poise and confidence on both ends of the floor so I’m really proud of their growth.”

… Charlotte led after the first three quarters for only the fourth time this season after trailing following the first quarter 11 times in the previous 14 games. “It’s huge for us,” Hornets center Cody Zeller said. “We stuck it out and it was a big win for us.”

… The Hornets had six double-figure scorers – P.J. Washington and Terry Rozier 19 points apiece, LaMelo Ball 16, Devonte’ Graham 14, Zeller 12 and Gordon Hayward 11 – with Washington getting nine rebounds and Graham 10 assists. Also, all nine Hornets who played in the game had at least one point and one assist by the end of the first half. “We had a hunger to win,” Graham said.

… Charlotte now has 93 dunks this season, which ranks them fifth in the NBA.

… Ball entered the game in select company for passing in NBA statistics per 48 minutes; He was seventh in the league assist average (11.5) in a category led by Brooklyn’s James Harden (13.8).

… Borrego has leaned heavily on Hayward this season, but he was thrilled the Hornets could win on a night in which Hayward was four of 12 from the field. “You’ve got to make shots in this league to win and those haven’t been falling our way and they fell tonight – even without Gordon having a big night,” Borrego said.

… Indiana was led by Domantas Sabonis’ 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists two days after he had the seventh triple-double of his career in Wednesday’s 116-106 Pacers’ victory.

… Charlotte has now played the same opponent in consecutive games four times this season. They were swept by Philadelphia and Toronto and have now split with Orlando and Indiana. There are no more back-to-back games against the same opponent in the Hornets’ first half schedule.

What’s next: Charlotte completed a three-game home stand on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Milwaukee Bucks.