Both teams got off to sluggish starts. By the midway point of the first quarter, they had only combined to score 15 points. Marvin Williams marked his return with a floater, Cody Martin hit a 3-pointer, and Miles Bridges threw down this slam to spark the Hornets.
Those buckets made up the bulk of a 10-0 Hornets run. After one, the Hornets led by five.
The Hornets grew that lead into double figures with some strong transition play. Both teams were diving on the floor for loose balls, playing with a gusto and fervor the haters will say NBA teams don’t show in the regular season. Devonte’ Graham finally attempted his first field goals in the second quarter, but it took him six attempts to get his first one to drop. He a second consecutive three shortly after to give the Hornets a six point lead at the half.
The scoring came fast and furious at the start of the third quarter. Harrison Barnes scored a layup 11 seconds into the half. From that through the end of the quarter, the Hornets never led by more than four, but they also never trailed. Malik Monk had two impressive double clutch layups. Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller continued their strong play and had combined for 31 points by quarter’s end. They led by one heading into the fourth quarter.
Bogdan Bogdanovic broke that streak about a minute into the fourth quarter by rattling in a jump shot to give the Kings a one point lead. Cody Zeller took it back 11 seconds later, and then Malik Monk got hot. He hit three straight jumpers off the dribble, with two coming from behind the arc, to give the Hornets a six point lead and force the Kings to take a timeout. Graham took his turn after the timeout by hitting back to back 3-pointers and forcing another Kings timeout. A couple strong drives from Monk got him to a season high 21 points. The Hornets kept a sizable stiff-arm on the Kings as the game wound down. The Kings threw a full court press at the Hornets, but it wasn’t effective. Terry Rozier hit a dagger three to put the Hornets up 11 with just over a minute to play. He took an ill advised 3-pointer early in the shot clock on the next possession, but the Kings were unprepared and left Monk all alone to dunk home the exclamation point.
Monk was one of six Hornets to finish in double figures. Marvin Williams marked his return with 16 points. Bismack Biyombo tallied his own double double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Cody Zeller stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.
Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier made their way into double figures as well, but they did so with continued poor shooting. They combined to shoot 8-of-31 from the field, though they were better from behind the arc.
The Hornets will try to make it two in a row when they take on the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday night.