These are two of the worst defensive teams in the NBA as of late, and that was apparent at that start with both sides getting whatever they wanted to outset of the game. LaMelo kept the Hornets afloat early by pushing the pace, moving the ball and scoring eight points in the first three minutes.
LaMelo Ball saves its back to Biz, then gets going in transition -- gorgeous threading of the needle to Rozier for a layup pic.twitter.com/uwwb12Rk1O— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) March 2, 2021
Here’s a fun fact: Bismack Biyombo entered this game with the exact same number of points and rebounds this season, 171. The Malik Monk/Terry Rozier backcourt sparked an 11-0 Hornets run that gave them a 26-17 lead with 3:20 left in the opening frame, but Portland’s shooters started hitting open looks and the first quarter ended with a 33-27 Charlotte advantage.
The Hornets contained Damian Lillard well in the opening half (10 points, 3-8 FG), but his teammates were able to do ample damage. Portland made 12 of its 24 attempts from deep in the first half, including one from Carmelo Anthony that sparked a “Vintage Melo” run for a few minutes. The game was tied at 40 with seven minutes left in the second, which was surprising given the funky lineups coach James Borrego had to employ—not his fault, though, it is the second night of a back-to-back and the team needs to keep its legs fresh.
Energy levels were impressive coming off a tough game last night, but the Hornets were still a step slow on screen actions and defensive switches, but both teams shot and moved the ball well and it resulted in a pretty fun first half that ended in a tie at 59. Rozier led the team with 13 points (3-6 3P), and LaMelo and Caleb Martin (3-4 3P) each had 11 points.
The third quarter was what they call, “Dame Time.” Lillard scored 10 points in the quarter, including two step-back threes right in the face of his defender. The Hornets did just enough to hang around, though, thanks in part to LaMelo’s efforts getting into the paint and finishing; his development as a finisher and attacker has been tremendous this season, his ability to learn and adjust on the fly game-by-game is absurd for a 19-year-old rookie. After LaMelo hit a couple free throws to end the third, Portland led 92-83.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, any Hornet not named LaMelo was pretty much cooked. Portland went on an 8-2 run to start it off and even when the Hornets cut their lead to 12, 106-94 with about eight minutes left, the game just felt like it was out of reach. The Blazers’ role-players all shot well, and the Hornets didn’t have enough spark on either end to keep up for a full 48 minutes. The game ended in a Charlotte loss with a final score of 123-111.
LaMelo finished with 30 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals on 10-18 shooting. Rozier put up a relatively-quiet 20 points, six assists and four steals, while Monk added 19 on 3-7 from deep. Caleb Martin scored 11 points and grabbed five boards in 23 minutes.
Anthony led Portland with 29 points off the bench on 10-19 FG (6-10 3P). Lillard posted 23 points and 10 assists, and Robert Covington had 21 and 10 boards on 8-11 shooting (5-7 3P).
Quick notes from tonight; another team set their franchise 3-point record against the Hornets, lol; the Martin twins shot 16 times combined, that has to be a record; Rozier’s hot streak is a distant memory; at least LaMelo played well; Portland’s defense is horrifically bad, they need to make a trade for a wing/forward to compete out West; Lillard is one of the most fun players in the NBA, love him; lastly, THE HORNETS STILL NEED CODY ZELLER.