Gordon Hayward carried the first quarter with 15 points, all of them coming from jump shots of varying distances. Russell Westbrook and Rui Hachimura did most of the damage for the Wizards in a relatively even first quarter. The Hornets led by three at the end of it.
The teams traded baskets for most of the second quarter, though the Hornets slowly built upon their lead. It peaked at 11 in the final moments of the period, but a Rui Hachimura three at the horn brought the Wizards within eight.
The teams traded small runs throughout the third quarter. Whenever it looked like the Hornets were going to build up a comfortable working margin, the Wizards would go on a little run to pull within a possession or two. Terry Rozier took over for a spell in the quarter by splashing a handful of tough leaning jump shots. That spurred another distance-creating run for the Hornets to close the third quarter, after which they led by a score of 89-81.
The start of the fourth quarter was somewhat choppy. We had a weird review that took way too long that ended in Cody Zeller receiving a technical foul for accidentally running into Garrison Matthews. All of the Wizards scoring in the first few minutes came from a pair of atrocious-looking Robin Lopez post-ups. We had a second review as Scott Brooks challenged a pivotal block call against Jerome Robinson with 7:29 left to play. He did win the challenge, for what it’s worth.
The Hornets went cold after that review wiped away Washington’s bucket. Terry Rozier finally broke the seal with a couple tough mid range jumpers and a step back three. The Wizards tried to up the pressure to force the Hornets into turnovers and rushed shots, but Miles Bridges put Robin Lopez in the blender and threw down a big dunk to put the Hornets up eight with just over a minute to play. The Hornets played the free throw game to set the final margin.
Cody Zeller was a menace on the glass, pulling in 13 rebounds to go with his 16 points. Devonte’ Graham put in a workman-like 17 points, six assists, five rebounds, and three steals.
The highlight of the night might have belonged to Russell Westbrook, who threw a monster dunk on the head of Bismack Biyombo with the game all but decided.
The Hornets are now 24-22 and sit alone in the four spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Up next is a prime time showdown with the Brooklyn Nets on TNT.