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Poor third quarter dooms Hornets as they lose to Pacers, 115-104

The Hornets gave up 73 points in the second half and had their modest two game winning streak snapped.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham, and Miles Bridges scored 28, 24, and 18 points respectively, but poor second half defense did the Charlotte Hornets in as they fell to the Indiana Pacers, 115-104.

The Hornets played a relatively even first quarter, which seems like a rarity this season. Cody Zeller entered the game about halfway through the quarter and immediately went off on his hometown team. He hit a 3-pointer with his first shot attempt, which marked the start of a 10-point quarter off the bench. The Hornets had a four point lead as the quarter wound down, but they relaxed on defense and gave up an open dunk to Edmond Sumner in the final seconds.

After a couple back and forth baskets to start the quarter, the teams went threw a three minute dry spell that featured just one bucket—a TJ McConnell 3-pointer. A Terry Rozier fast break layup a few minutes later marked the beginning of another extended run of play without a point. The Hornets played very good defense all quarter long, tallying a number of deflections and forcing the Pacers to take a lot of tough shots, aside from a few total breakdowns. The teams scored just 15 points apiece in the quarter and went into halftime with the Hornets nursing a 44-42 lead.

TJ Warren started his takeover right out of the halftime break. He scored the Pacers’ first nine points of the quarter and assisted on their next two. The Pacers went on a 21-6 run in the middle of the quarter, turning what had been a three point Hornets lead into a 14 point Hornets deficit. The run spanned over six minutes of game time and was heavily influenced by Domantas Sabonis. James Borrego called a timeout to try to halt the run. The Hornets offense woke up there. The defense did not.

The Hornets started the fourth quarter in a 14 point hole. They made a mini-run to start the quarter to cut the deficit to just seven, thanks in large part to Justin Holiday. He was given two technical fouls in a matter of seconds. Terry Rozier hit both free throws, then hit a step back jumper on the ensuing offensive possession. Dwayne Bacon banked in a straight on jumper on the next possession to reach the aforementioned seven point deficit. Then TJ Warren woke up again. He scored 12 points in the final eight-and-a-half minutes of the game. The Hornets got plenty of scoring on the home stretch, mostly from Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, who combined for 23 points in the final eight minutes of the game. But it didn’t matter as the Hornets couldn’t get stops when they needed them.

Tonight’s contest will go into the ever-expanding bucket of games where the Hornets couldn’t hang with a superior team in the second half. There were some strong individual performances, particularly on the offensive end, but the defense was lacking outside of the second quarter.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Hornets. They host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.