Hornets wrapup: Friday’s road game at New Orleans Pelicans

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Friday’s 118-110 Charlotte Hornets’ road win over the New Orleans Pelicans that improved the team to 4-5 overall:

… Charlotte fell behind by 18 points three times in the second quarter in their first nationally-televised game of the season but after missing 16 of 19 3-pointers in the first half, the Hornets converted 13 of 23 in the second half to take the come-from-behind victory.

… Much of the attention pregame was focused on the matchup of brothers LaMelo Ball of Charlotte and Lonzo Ball of New Orleans. It was their first meeting and the younger LaMelo came out on top on the scoreboard and the stat sheet. LaMelo had a near triple-double of 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in 26 minutes off the bench while Lonzo started and had five points, two rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. “Whenever we win, I feel great,” LaMelo Ball said.

… As most fans in the region know, New Orleans inherited Charlotte’s first NBA team when owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge acrimoniously left town after clashing with city officials over the building of a new arena. The Pelicans had won 22 of 31 previous meetings between the teams, including 12 of 15 in New Orleans before Friday’s comeback win.

… Friday’s game was the first time former Duke star Zion Williamson of nearby Spartanburg, S.C., has played against the Hornets. Williamson had 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes. “He’s look as explosive and dynamic as I remember seeing him,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of Williamson, who missed Charlotte’s only game with New Orleans last season while injury limited him to 24 games as a rookie; Friday’s game marked Williamson’s ninth game this season.

… As Gordon Hayward went, so went the Hornets in large degree on Friday. After missing four of six shots in the first half (and both 3-pointers, Hayward hit seven of 12 shots in the second half (four of five 3-pointers) for 22 points. “He’s a pro,” Borrego said. “He’s been there before. Nobody was hanging their head at halftime, especially him.”

… The NBA G League announced earlier Friday that 18 teams, including the Hornets’ Greensboro Swarm, will begin play in February at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. The top eight teams will advance to a single-elimination playoff. “That’s a big deal for us,” Borrego said. “I’m appreciative of our organization to invest in that. And I’m thrilled for our young guys. We’re going to use the program because we believe in it.”
Borrego didn’t say specifically which players would comprise the Swarm roster, but rookies Vernon Carey, Jr., Nick Richards and Grant Riller appear the most logical fits on the current Hornets’ roster.

What’s next: Charlotte hosts Atlanta on Saturday at 7 p.m.
It’s the first of three straight home games that include Monday against New York and Wednesday against Dallas.