The win against the Thunder checked off every box you could want in a preseason opener. The returning players looked ready for live action—Ball, Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, and Jalen McDaniels all scored in double figures and put in strong all around performances. Washington had some nice finishes around the basket (an area where he struggled all last season), and Bridges showed some of the same alpha scoring we saw from him down the stretch last season. Rozier was solid as ever, while Ball showed off a nifty floater game that’s going to make him nearly impossible to guard around the basket.
Gordon Hayward was relatively quiet, but he’s back healthy, and he’ll be a key for the Hornets going forward. None of the veteran acquisitions put in noteworthy performances, but all provided a glimpse of the role they’ll be playing this season.
We did get one health scare when Kelly Oubre limped to the locker room after a very awkward looking fall. Thankfully, James Borrego says the injury is not serious, and Oubre will be day-to-day moving forward.
But the big highlight of the night might be the performance of James Bouknight. The Hornets rookie scored a game high 20 points. He was somewhat limited through the first three quarters, though he did have a nifty steal-and-score and got to the line well. But he got full run in the fourth quarter and made the most of it—he scored 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the period. The situation couldn’t be of much less consequence, but you love to see the rookie showing some scoring prowess in his first game with the big boys.
The Hornets will look to build on this in a locally televised game against the Grizzlies on Thursday.