Hornets wrapup: Gordon Hayward’s career high 44 points tied for 9th all-time in franchise history

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Wednesday’s 102-94 Charlotte Hornets’ road win over the Atlanta Hawks that improved the team to 3-5 overall:

… Gordon Hayward set a career-high with 44 points as Charlotte snapped a three-game losing streak and won its first game of the season against a Southeast Division rival. “I thought he set the tone with his aggressiveness,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of Hayward. “I thought he was fantastic tonight.”

… After falling behind in the first quarter of each of the three straight defeats, Charlotte took a 27-11 lead after the first quarter on Wednesday. “It was very important,” guard Terry Rozier said. “We had a different sense of urgency tonight. It all started off that first quarter energy.”

… Hayward said the 44 points was his all-time career-high in basketball. His previous NBA career-high was 39 though he had a 40-point playoff game. “I thought it was a great win for us,” Hayward said. “We needed that win for sure.”

… Hayward’s single-game scoring is tied for ninth all-time in franchise history. The previous nine top games resulted in only a 3-6 record for the Hornets, including a 122-119 home overtime loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 17, 2018 when Kemba Walker scored a franchise-record 60 points.

… Rookie LaMelo Ball had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists and he continues to draw raves for his passing. “I have no idea what’s going to happen when he touches the ball,” Borrego said of Ball. “I have no idea. His teammates don’t know and, most importantly, our opponents don’t know. He sparks us. He energizes us.”

… Charlotte built a 24 point lead – at 59-35 with one minute left in the second quarter – before Atlanta rallied to eventually take its only lead at 86-85 with 5:22 left in the game. “I give our guys a ton of credit,” Borrego said. “We didn’t panic. We kept our heads and our we kept our cool.”

… A key to the Charlotte win was the team’s defense of Atlanta All-Star guard Trae Young, whose 53-game double-figure scoring streak was stopped when he was limited to seven points on two of nine shooting – zero for three on 3-pointers – in 35 minutes.

… Four of Atlanta’s five starters were Hawks’ first round selections from 2017 to 2019 – No. 19 overall selection John Collins (of Wake Forest) in 2017, No. 5 overall selection Trae Young in 2018, No. 4 overall selection DeAndre Hunter (of Virginia) and No. 10 overall selection Cam Reddish (of Duke) in 2019.

What’s next: Charlotte visits New Orleans on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Hornets have lost 22 of 31 previous matchups against the franchise that began after leaving Charlotte following the 2001-02 season.