Devonte’ Graham scored 27 points and hit eight 3-pointers while Terry Rozier and PJ Washington chipped in 25 and 20 points respectively, but they couldn’t overcome 16 fourth quarter points from Anthony Tolliver as the Charlotte Hornets lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 115-112.
PJ Washington flushed home a put-back dunk to give the Hornets their first points two whole minutes into the game. Willy Hernangomez made good on some rare rotation minutes with Bismack Biyombo out of the lineup, converting on all three of his first quarter field goal attempts. For the Blazers, the first of a couple CJ McCollum/Carmelo Anthony shows kept the game even. After one, the teams were separated by just a point.
Only two Blazers made a shot in the first 6:45 of the second quarter. They were CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony, and they combined for 18 points in that span. The Hornets offense slowed down while the Blazers offense got hot. The Hornets trailed by as many as 17 in the second quarter and took a 16 point deficit into halftime.
The Trail Blazers seemed to make a concerted effort to not guard the Hornets on the perimeter coming out of the half. The Hornets hit three straight wide open 3-pointers, and it would’ve been four if not for a questionable travel call on Miles Bridges as he gathered to hit his three. But no matter, Devonte’ Graham hit a contested 3-pointer on the next possession to get the points back. Some Blazers baskets couldn’t stop the Hornets fire. They made 7-of-9 3-point attempts in the first six minutes of the half alone and cut their 16 point deficit all the way down to one. Terry Rozier tied it a short time later with a pair of free throws a short time later, then Willy Hernangomez gave the Hornets with a layup out of a pick and roll. Devonte’ Graham hit the Hornets ninth 3-pointer of the quarter while getting fouled for a huge 4-point play. The Hornets looked like they were going to take a one point lead heading into the fourth, but Graham took the Hornets last shot a couple seconds too early, which gave Lillard time to get a half court heave that found the bottom of the net.
PJ Washington opened the fourth quarter scoring with his third and the Hornets 14th 3-pointer of the game.
The next part of this recap deserves a warning. What you are about to read is 100% actual truth.
Anthony Tolliver took over the game. The same Anthony Tolliver that is the quintessential NBA journeyman. He bullied inside for a few layups. He tipped out offensive rebounds to keep Blazers possessions alive. He hit a 3-pointer. He drove from the 3-point line and hit a wild reverse layup. He did it all and finished with 16 points in the fourth quarter alone.
But he wasn’t the only player playing good basketball. The Hornets kept pace with more hot shooting from deep including a timely three by one Nicolas Batum. The Hornets had a chance to tie it on a Terry Rozier 3-pointer, but it drew front iron. Batum was able to track down the rebound, but Rozier turned it over on a cross court pass that may or may not have been touched by an out-of-bounds Carmelo Anthony.
Damian Lillard had a chance to ice the game with free throws, but his second attempt rolled off the rim, giving the Hornets one more chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer. Their last play fell flat though as Terry Rozier lost his footing trying to jostle himself free of his cover. Graham’s desperation attempt was blocked by Kent Bazemore.
PJ Washington broke out of his mini-slump with a 20 point, 11 rebound double double. Devonte’ Graham dropped 10 times to go with his 27 points. Willy Hernangomez finished with 14 points in 16 minutes filling in for Bismack Biyombo.
The Hornets wrap up their west coast swing in the Denver altitude on Wednesday.