Terry Rozier scored 31 points thanks in large part to an explosive second quarter as the Charlotte Hornets ran away from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second half to head into the All Star break with a win, 135-102.
Gordon Hayward came out and played like a man who’s had a few days off and scored 10 quick points for the good guys. The Hornets didn’t play with that same energy on the other end of the floor as they dug a double digit hole for themselves with some very shaky defense. More focused defensive effort with some help from the Timberwolves and their inability to make layups helped the Hornets gradually erase the deficit. Malik Monk capped the quarter with a couple iso 3-pointers, the second of which he banked in, to give the Hornets a three point lead after one.
A sloppy start to the second quarter from the Hornets was outdone by a sloppy middle of the quarter by the Timberwolves, who committed a number of unforced turnovers and missed some more bunnies. The Hornets reeled off 11 straight points to build a bit of a cushion during that run, but the offense dried up pretty quickly. It took some Gordon Hayward heroics to carry the stumbling Hornets offense to the half. He scored or assisted on the Hornets last seven points of the half as the Hornets took a six point lead into the break.
After some back and forth, Terry Rozier blew the game open. He had five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the third quarter, and additional 3-point play of the old school variety. It was part of an 18-0 Hornets run that turned a modest six point lead into a 24 point stiff arm. The Hornets outscored the Wolves 36-20 in the quarter and completely overwhelmed their young adversary. The Timberwolves put up a little bit of a fight in the closing moments of the quarter, but they still trailed by 22 heading into the final frame.
The quarter break didn’t do anything to stop the Hornets runaway train. A Bismack Biyombo put-back amid a Hornets run put the good guys up 29 before their next three possessions were ended by LaMelo Ball 3-pointers. Those buckets put the Hornets up by 34, and it was smooth sailing through garbage time from there.
Terry Rozier’s 31 point outburst was complemented by a strong return to the lineup by Gordon Hayward, who finished with 23 points and nine assists. He got the Hornets offense going early and dominated the Wolves in isolation possessions.
Newly minted Rookie of the Month LaMelo Ball’s late flurry of offense helped him to a 19 point, seven rebound, and five assist performance.
Miles Bridges and Malik Monk put in another pair of strong performances off the bench. Bridges finished with another double double (13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) while Malik Monk chipped in another 18 points.
This is exactly the kind of performance James Borrego would’ve wanted to see heading into the break. The Hornets finish their tough Western Conference road trip 3-3 and head into the second half of the season just one game under .500.