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Recap: Hornets knock down second straight conference leader with win over Wizards, 97-87

The Hornets held the Wizards to just 36 points in the second half as they ground out a tough win.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball dropped a career high 14 assists while Terry Rozier came alive in the second half as the Charlotte Hornets put the clamps on the Washington Wizards to earn themselves a 97-87 win.

The first half was rather uneventful. Neither team was at their offensive best and neither team could ever string together consecutive baskets or consecutive stops. It was a lot like the Warriors game in that regard. The only Wizard the Hornets struggled to contain was Daniel Gafford, who made all seven of his shot attempts as part of a 16-point first half points. On the Hornets end, they somehow managed to play the entire first half without shooting a free throw.

Both teams started the second half cold, combining to make two of the quarter’s first 12 shots. The Hornets earned their first free throws of the game at the 6:48 mark of the third quarter. By the midway point the quarter, the Hornets had mustered just seven points. A LaMelo Ball run out dunk after a Cody Martin steal ignited a 23-4 run for the Hornets to flip a nine point Hornets deficit into a 10 point lead. The Hornets deflected balls and blocked shots. The quarter ended in fitting fashion with Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre blocking two Deni Avdija 3-pointers in about two seconds. Oubre and Jalen McDaniels provided huge sparks each off the bench with a couple of 3-pointers apiece.

The Hornets got a couple early buckets from McDaniels and Terry Rozier, after which the Wizards made a bit of a push to force a Hornets timeout. The timeout seemed to refocus the Hornets, who pushed their lead back out to double figures. Terry Rozier got cooking with a couple of mid range bumpers of from various angles with various leanings. The Wizards 3-point struggles on the night hit their low point during that Hornets run, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stole a careless Ball pass, strolled to 3-point line, set his feet with no one within 20 feet of him, then airballed the jumper.

A few minutes later after some more Hornets stops, LaMelo Ball found Terry Rozier with a cross court pass for a dagger three. The three gave the Hornets a 13-point lead with 1:27 to go and gave Ball a career high 14 assists.

The Hornets struggled to put the ball in the basket for much of the night, but they dialed in defensively coming out of the halftime break. They got some help from some abhorrent Wizards shooting, but they also made their own luck in some regards. In the third and fourth quarter, the Hornets were swarming to the ball and would not let the Wizards get any easy looks.

Ball notched yet another double double with 11 points to go along with those 14 assists. Five other Hornets scored in double figures—Rozier (19), Bridges (17), Oubre (14), Plumlee (11), and McDaniels (11).

The Hornets have now won four straight after their five game losing streak out west. They’ll try to make it five in a row against the Pacers on Friday.