Terry Rozier scored a career high 35 points, including four straight 3-pointers in the final 90 seconds of the game that nearly won the game for the Charlotte Hornets, but it wasn’t enough as the Hornets lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 100-98.
The Hornets did not look like a team ready to play a professional basketball game. Whether because of fatigue on the second night of a back to back, underestimating the Cavs, or a combination of both, the Hornets played with very little focus and intensity in the first quarter. The Cavs got several easy layups off cuts and drives. They didn’t convert them at a high clip, but they found several open 3-pointers as well. They even grabbed over half of their own misses. All that lead to an eight point Cavs lead after one.
The Cavaliers’ buckets dried up at the start of the second quarter. Unfortunately, so did the Hornets’. The Hornets made just four of their first 16 field goal attempts in the quarter, and all came right at the basket. A flurry of baskets came in the final three minutes of the quarter, but they were evenly distributed between the teams. Collin Sexton, who finished the half 7-for-7 from the field, hit a couple mid range shots late to put the Cavs up 12 at the half.
You’d think the Hornets woke up at the half and played up to their ability. Well you’d be wrong. The Cavaliers started the half on a 14-2 run and took a 24 point lead. The score yo-yoed for the next several minutes. The Hornets threatened to make a run with seven straight points, but the Cavs quickly restored their lead. The Hornets went on a second, much bigger run a short time later. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terry Rozier went on a 12-2 run over the Cavaliers, including back to back 3-pointers to pull the Hornets within 12 heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started with such promise. Terry Rozier got a steal in the back court and cruised in for an easy dunk to cut the margin to 10. Except he missed it. Kevin Porter Jr. hit a 3-pointer a few seconds later. The Hornets did eventually cut the deficit to 10 about five game minutes later thanks to back to back 3-pointers from Rozier and Devonte’ Graham. They finally got it into single digits with 3:44 remaining when Graham found Cody Zeller for an easy layup out of the pick and roll. Then the Terry Rozier show took center stage.
Rozier scored 14 straight points for the Hornets, including 3-pointers on four straight possessions. The Cavs scored just enough to hold onto their lead. Rozier got a good look for a fifth straight 3-pointer to win the game, but it just barely rattled out. Time expired before either team could track down the rebound.
Rozier scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter. It’s a fantastic sign for a player that had severely struggled with his outside shot in recent games.
Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams were the only other Hornets to crack double figures. Zeller scored 13 of his 15 in the first half. Williams hit a couple key buckets in the Hornets comeback attempt.
Malik Monk left the game early with a hip contusion. No word on whether this was a new injury or related to the nasty fall he took on Tuesday night.
The Hornets will get two days off for the first time in what seems like forever before hosting the Jazz on Saturday.