The Hornets started slowly again and pretty quickly dug themselves into an eight point hole. Kelly Oubre, now coming off the bench with Terry Rozier back in the lineup, rectified that with a 10 point quarter. The up and down quarter ended with the Hornets trailing by three.
The pace picked up to a torrent pace in the second quarter. Both teams were getting shots up early in the shot clock, and made shots were being answered by made shots in transition. LaMelo Ball got going for a spell, hitting three shots in the lane and dropping some nice assists. Though he did pick up his third foul a few minutes into the quarter and needed to take an early seat. The Hornets continued to struggle on the defensive end with more than a few moments of apparent apathy leading to easy looks for the Cavs. The Hornets trailed by as many as 11, but a little Hornets run led in large part by Oubre and Miles Bridges pulled the Cavs back within arms reach. An Ish Smith alley oop to Kelly Oubre at the halftime buzzer brought the Hornets within five and gave Oubre 17 first half points.
The Hornets picked up the defensive intensity in the third quarter and took a lead a couple minutes into the quarter on a LaMelo Ball midrange pull-up. The teams traded baskets for several minutes after that. Just about every Hornet contributed while the Cavs got most of their offense from Collin Sexton. After three, the Hornets led by one.
The Cavs started the fourth quarter with the ball, but two straight turnovers to start the quarter led to four Hornets points before the Cavs even got a shot up in the fourth. Ball found Gordon Hayward for an open three to force a Cavs timeout as the Hornets took their largest lead of the game to that point, 100-91. The Hornets came out of the timeout and stole the ball from the Cavs on their next four possessions, leading to nine Hornets points and another Cavs timeout. The Cavs pushed back a little bit out of that timeout, but they were never able to make a game of it again. Miles Bridges made sure of that with a flurry of buckets down the stretch. A couple of Cavs buckets in garbage time made the final score a little more respectable.
Oubre and Bridges got plenty of help from their friends. LaMelo Ball finished with 17 points, three rebounds, six assists, and five steals, and the six assists do a bit of a disservice to how well he passed the ball. Gordon Hayward scored 18, and Cody Martin made it into double figures yet again with 10 points and a bunch of disruptive plays on defense.
The slow starts are a bit concerning, but this team has shown the can turn it on when they need to. There are so many players that can take over a game, and we’ve already seen four different players do that at different points through two games.
The Hornets will look to make it three straight on Sunday afternoon against the Nets.