LaMelo Ball scored 27 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists while Kelly Oubre scored 26 points off the bench to lead the Charlotte Hornets to a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, 125-116.
The Hornets welcomed Terry Rozier back into the starting lineup, and he wasted little time getting into a rhythm. He scored seven of the Hornets 17 points in the first five minutes of the game, and his two free throws were the only two of those 17 points that did not come from behind the 3-point line. The Hornets didn’t make their first 2-point basket until Ish Smith found Cody Martin for layup with 2:36 left in the first quarter.
The teams started the second quarter with a flurry of offense with the two teams combining to score on the first seven possessions of the quarter. The offensive outburst was countered by a three-plus minute stretch in the middle of the quarter during which exactly one shot was made from the field by either team. The Blazers were able to create a little bit of space for themselves during all of that and took a seven point lead into the break.
The Hornets continued their run of strong third quarters to wipe out that deficit. They got a pair of 3-pointers from both LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier en route to a 36 point quarter. A 14-4 run through the middle part of the quarter flipped a four-point Hornets deficit into a six-point lead, but the Blazers quickly answered and evened the game back up. The Hornets entered the fourth quarter with a one point lead.
3-pointers from Kelly Oubre, Gordon Hayward, and Miles Bridges helped push the Hornets out to an eight-ish point stiff arm early in the fourth quarter, and they wouldn’t relinquish that lead. The Blazers never pushed closer than six points the rest of the way, and the Hornets answered almost every Blazers bucket with a bucket of their own. Oubre scored 13 of his 26 in that decisive final quarter and hit three 3-pointers to comprise most of those 13 points.
This game fit the bill of most of the Hornets games this season. They played relatively evenly with their opposition for most of the game, but a second half run was enough to push them out of reach. They turned up their defensive intensity in the fourth, blocking four Blazers shots and holding them under 40% shooting from the field.
Miles Bridges has put the league on notice with his scoring so far this season. He got a lot of attention from the Blazers both when he put the ball on the floor and when he caught spot up opportunities on the perimeter. He made the Blazers pay for all that attention with a career high nine assists. And he chipped in 19 points on just 12 shots to complement that.
Terry Rozier scored 14 points and knocked down four 3-pointers in his return. His ball handling and outside shooting makes the starting unit seemingly impossible to guard, and Oubre fits perfectly coming off the bench where he can be a sparkplug.
PJ Washington had a very strong game off the bench as well, scoring 17 points without missing any of his eight shot attempts.
The Hornets made 20 3-pointers and assisted on 36 of their 46 made shots. They currently boast the league’s second best offense.
They’ll look to keep to their winning ways when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.