LaMelo Ball tied a franchise rookie record with seven made 3-pointers as part of his 24 point, 10 assist performance, as the Charlotte Hornets used a dominant fourth quarter to pull away from the Houston Rockets and win their second straight laugher, 119-94.
The two teams played the first quarter pretty evenly. The Hornets got offense from every corner of the rotation; everyone chipped in while no one took over the game. They were able to piece together and efficient 32 point quarter against what’s been the best defense in the league since the James Harden trade. Defensively, the Hornets kept the Rockets in check with Victor Oladipo’s downhill drives proving to be the only aspect of the Rockets offense that the Hornets struggled to contain. A relatively mundane quarter was capped off by an audacious final bucket that gave the Hornets a five point lead.
This Hornets buzzer-beater to end the 1Q pic.twitter.com/dmBZrkMaKz— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 9, 2021
Both teams got hot from deep in the second quarter. Ben McLemore knocked down four 3-pointers for the Rockets while LaMelo Ball answered with three triples of his own. The Hornets did a generally poor job defending the Rockets all over the floor, frequently losing shooters and looking disconnected on many of their rotations. It allowed the Rockets to take a lead for a time, but the Hornets cleaned the mistakes up and retook the lead before the half was done. Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges ushered in that lead in their own unique ways—Hayward with crafty moves to get to the free throw line, and Bridges with a bowling ball drive and athletic tip in.
Ball hit his career high fifth 3-pointer of the game 12 seconds into the second half. He hit number six a couple minutes later. Ball had to exit the game early in the third after picking up his fourth foul to stop a Rockets fast break. The Hornets carried on in his absence as their lead yo-yoed between eight and zero all quarter along. Malik Monk assisted on a Terry Rozier 3-pointer and then scored the Hornets final eight points of the quarter when the offense started to bog down. After three, the Hornets led by three.
Ball reentered the game to start the fourth quarter, and his entry coincided with a burst of energy from the home team. The rookie found Bridges for a pair of alley-oops early in the quarter, and Bridges followed those up with 3-pointer right after. Ball tied a Hornets franchise rookie record with his seventh 3-pointer to give the Hornets a 14 point lead with just over seven minutes to go. He dropped a couple more times as the game got out of hand to notch his fourth career double double.
Even with all the offensive fireworks, it was the Hornets defense that won them the game in the fourth quarter. They held the Rockets without a field goal for the first 7:44 of the quarter. The Rockets missed ten shots and committed five turnovers before they finally got their first bucket. The Hornets amassed 19 points in that time. The run allowed the Hornets to empty the bench with a little over three minutes to play. Even the bench brigade defended well. The Rockets finished the game with seven total points scored in the fourth quarter.
We did get a little fun when Mason Jones took one of the worst dives you’ll ever see trying to get fouled on a 3-point attempt. He initially got the whistle, but James Borrego wouldn’t let him get away with those shenanigans and successfully challenged the call.
Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball, often known as Air BnB, henceforth known as MBx2, each finished the night with double doubles. Ball tallied 24 points and 10 assists (with seven rebounds to boot). Bridges scored 19 points and hauled in 10 rebounds off the bench.
Gordon Hayward scored a ho-hum 19 points. Malik Monk finished with 14 points off the bench. Terry Rozier scored 15 points and had a couple big jumpers.
The Hornets will try to keep the good times rolling against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.