The Hornets flipped the script from the Wizards game in regards to getting to the free throw line. They got to the line early and often after attempting no free throws in the first half and only six for the game on Wednesday. The game was a bit slow and choppy in the first quarter, but the Hornets were able to establish a five point lead.
The second quarter was much more lively. The Hornets worked out to a nine point lead, but a quick Pacers spurt tied the game back up and forced a Hornets timeout. That timeout proved to be a momentum shifter. The Hornets won the quarter 26-11 from that point on with LaMelo ball scoring or assisting on 21 of those 26 Hornets points. Ball and Gordon Hayward led the way during the run. Ball finished the half with 21 points and four assists while Hayward chipped in another 14 points.
The Hornets quickly built onto their lead thanks to a 13-5 start to the quarter. The Hornets had a very brief lapse after Rick Carlisle called a timeout to put a fresh five on the floor, but that was steadied by a timely Gordon Hayward three. The Hornets extended their lead to 25 with what can only be described as the perfect offensive possession.
A couple possessions later, Cody Martin put Goga Bitadze in the basket.
Among all the razzle dazzle, the Pacers did chip away a big chunk of the Hornets lead. Former Hornets Jeremy Lamb and Brad Wanamaker did a lot of that damage as they pulled the Pacers to within 13 points heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets continued struggling offensively early in the fourth. They had a couple of turnovers and badly missed a couple of wide open 3-pointers. The Pacers pulled as close as seven as Rick Carlisle continued to ride his reserves, but Miles Bridges scored five straight points to restore some control for the Hornets. Transition layups from Kelly Oubre and Cody Martin and an and-1 from LaMelo Ball (which gave him 30 points for the night) put the Hornets up 17 with five minutes to play and seemingly put the game out of reach. However, the Hornets took their foot off the gas too early. They played sloppily on offense and let the Pacers get some easy buckets.
The situation got really dicey in the last minute. Jeremy Lamb hit a deep three and the Pacers stole the inbound pass for another layup to pull all the way to within five. The Hornets turned the ball over twice while trying to put the game away while Jeremy Lamb hit another tough three. The Hornets finally buckled down on the Pacers last ditch possession and prevented them from getting a real attempt at a game tying three. A win is a win.
For as good as Ball was for most of the game, he had a few bad mistakes when the Pacers were pushing that contributed to the run, but he was far from alone. The Hornets as a whole maybe tried to have a bit too much fun and lost sight of the Pacers closing in on them. But they got locked in for the last possession to seal the game.
Another huge stat line from Ball was complemented by a 25-point performance from Gordon Hayward against his hometown team. Kelly Oubre had a strong game with 12 points off the bench while Bridges, Martin, and Rozier also chipped in double figure showings.
The Hornets hit the road again for a three game road trip as part of a road heavy stretch of schedule in the coming weeks. It starts Saturday against the Hawks.