Terry Rozier opened the scoring for the Hornets with a 3-pointer on their second possession, and Charlotte as a whole got off to a pretty hot start, leading 11-2 after nearly three minutes of play. The ball was moving, and despite being extremely shorthanded the team came out of the gates with energy—it helped that Rozier was still feeling himself after scoring 75 points in the past two games. After one, the Hornets led 33-17.
Jalen McDaniels seemed to carry the confidence he built in the G League bubble with him to the big club, scoring four points (2-5 FG) and grabbing a rebound in 11 first-half minutes.
During the first quarter, DeMar DeRozan was mostly a non-factor, but he put up five points and four assists for San Antonio in the second en route to FORTY SEVEN (yes, 47) Spurs points in the quarter. The Hornets played subpar defense, but the Spurs also hit basically every shot they took that was remotely open, shooting 77 percent from the field over those 12 minutes. LaMelo Ball and Rozier posted 14 and 18 first-half points, respectively, to keep the Hornets afloat.
At the halftime break, Charlotte trailed 64-59. They shot 50 percent from the floor as a team in the first half, but the Spurs were at 56.5 percent thanks to their dominant second quarter. Dejounte Murray led them with 14 points and five boards, getting a ton of buckets in the mid-range and painted areas.
The second half started on a sour note; Devonte’ Graham limped to the locker room within 50 seconds and was ruled out for the remainder of the game with left knee patella (kneecap) discomfort. With the Hornets down three out of five starters, Monk scored nine points in Graham’s absence, and Charlotte needed every bit of his offense.
The third quarter was basically LaMelo, Monk, and Rozier vs. DeRozan, Murray, and Keldon Johnson. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has struck gold with lineups featuring DeRozan at the four this season, he’s a great passer with increasing willingness to make plays and Johnson is one of the best young off-ball players in the league. Going into the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 89, and Rozier led all scorers with 28 points. LaMelo had 17, six rebounds, five dimes and two steals and Monk was up to 18 (5-6 3PT)..
With 10:26 left in the game, the Hornets led 93-92, but that was the last time they’d be ahead. Down to eight healthy bodies and six healthy rotation players, the team just ran out of juice. Rozier can only score 30-plus efficiently for so many games in a row, and he and Monk can only play point guard for so long before the offense stagnates.
Derrick White drained a triple to make it 108-99 Spurs with 5:20 to go, and the Hornets couldn’t string together any more runs—until there was less than two minutes left in the game, and a Rozier triple following a steal from LaMelo cut San Antonio’s lead to six, 114-108. It was short lived, though, as the Spurs scored on their next two possessions to ice the game.
The Spurs defeated the Hornets 122-110. Rozier dropped 33 points and grabbed seven rebounds, his third-straight game of 30+ points, and LaMelo had 17, 12 boards, eight assists, three steals and a block. Monk scored 23 points on 5-6 from deep to go with four rebounds.
Tonight’s takeaways; LaMelo had an “off night” and he finished with 17/12/8/3/1, LMFAO; Miles Bridges’ double-double streak ends but he earned a bad game after a solid two-week stretch; Monk is a serious rotation piece, backup point guard minutes should go to him; Graham getting hurt zapped their energy and it’s just not possible to win down that many players against a good team like the Spurs; McDaniels looked better, it seems like the G League bubble boosted his confidence; these well-earned two days off coming up for our Hornets are warmly welcomed.