Terry Rozier dropped 26 points and Gordon Hayward scored 25 to lead the Charlotte Hornets past the Washington Wizards, 199-97.
This game started exactly how we all expected it to; with Cody Zeller scoring the first nine Hornets points, including his first made 3-pointer of the season. Charlotte hit four of their first five attempts from deep, but they were forced to break out the zone defense to slow the Wizards’ offense down. Neither team played any defense in the opening quarter, and the Hornets took a 34-31 lead into the second. Zeller led the way with 13 points while Hayward had 10 of his own.
Miles Bridges was doing Miles Bridges things at the beginning of the second quarter:
A few minutes later, LaMelo Ball and PJ Washington ran a beautiful dribble hand-off play on the left wing that resulted in Ball canning a wide-open three in rhythm while Washington sealed off both defenders. It’s not an “uncommon” set for the Hornets to run, but Washington’s versatility as a roll man, shooter, and playmaker doesn’t give defenses many options when Ball comes over the top.
The officials were really letting them play this afternoon. Nearly every player was jawing with the refs and neither coach was happy with the state of affairs. Still, the Hornets were knocking down their shots from long-range and it made all the difference in the first half.
With no Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier deserves some credit for shouldering the load as a playmaker. The Hornets offense is typically bad with Rozier at the point, but he only had one field goal attempts early in the second quarter with three assists and no turnovers. Bridges slammed home another putback, and soon after the Hornets took a 69-52 lead into the half.
The Wizards are abjectly horrible on defense, and they didn’t seem engaged on that end today whatsoever—bad combination. Rozier buried three triples in the first four minutes of the quarter while Hayward got wherever he wanted on the floor, whenever. Halfway through the third, the Hornets led 82-60.
After lobbying for a technical foul the entire game, Wizards coach Scott Brooks finally got one early in the third. For a moment, we were briefly transported to the year 2016 with this block on Rui Hachimura by Bismack Biyombo:
There was still three minutes left in the third quarter, but Brooks waved the white flag and dug into Washington’s bench by inserting Troy Brown Jr. and Garrison Matthews into the game. Charlotte took a 102-73 lead into the fourth. Hayward and Rozier combined for 19 points in the third.
It became clear very early in the fourth quarter that everyone involved in today’s Hornets-Wizards matchup at the Spectrum Center wanted to call it a day and head home. Robin Lopez gave Cody Zeller his nightly forearm to the face around the seven-minute mark, and in came Nick Richards, signaling that the game was truly decided.
The garbage time minutes were actually kind of entertaining. Malik Monk ran the point, the Martin twins manned the wing and Bridges and Richards anchored the frontcourt. There was an incredibly pointless review of a Richards foul on Moritz Wagner, and we saw 28-year-old rookie Anthony Gill (great story, look him up) get some time for the Wizards. This game took a ridiculously long time to end, but that’s fine, because it ended in a win for the Hornets.
Rozier led the Hornets with 26 points while Hayward added 25 and five rebounds. Ball had 19 points, seven boards and five assists, Zeller had 16 and seven rebounds, and Bridges posted an 11-point 14-rebound double-double with a career-high six offensive boards off the bench. Monk put up 11 points and—there’s a theme here—seven rebounds. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 31 points, and Russell Westbrook finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Tonight’s takeaways; the Martin twins don’t even look good in garbage time, it seems like they’re firmly out of the rotation when the team is healthy; Bridges has been a revelation this year, he’s taken a leap on both ends; Hayward’s “old man game” is extremely fun to watch when he’s hot; Zeller is the glue that holds this team together offensively; I can’t wait to eat chicken wings, sliders, and dip later, I’m starving.