The Charlotte Hornets ended their four-game skid Sunday night with a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, thanks in part to a near-triple-double from Terry Rozier and a scorching-hot shooting night from beyond the arc.
Pre-game thought; the red uniforms Portland wore contrasted beautifully with the Hornets’ teal on TV and it made for a pleasant viewing experience.
Vernon Carey Jr. started the second game of his career, but this time he picked up two fouls on the opening possession and went to the bench within 20 seconds. Hey, it happens.
Charlotte came out shooting in this one. They shot 13-15 FG to start the game, and by the 4:08 mark a 14-1 run had pushed them out to a 32-14 lead. The Blazers weren’t working all that hard for clean shots and in turn didn’t get many, and after one quarter the Hornets led 44-24.
Terry Rozier displayed a nice balance of scoring and playmaking, putting up 17 points and six assists while Miles Bridges had 14/4/2. The Hornets’ offense was obnoxiously efficient in the opening frame.
Carey Jr. came back in with 9:55 left in the second, and Enes Kanter went right at him to try and bait him into his third foul, but he held his own for a bit. The Hornets played with a nice pace early in the quarter before Carey Jr. eventually picked up his third (tacky) and fourth (legitimate) fouls, with the latter coming via an elbow to the mouth of Jusuf Nurkic, whose face is clearly made of steel to withstand such a blow.
After receiving a DNP-CD Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets, Cody Zeller played huge minutes in the first half with Carey Jr. in foul trouble. It was bound to happen with such a short rotation, but the Hornets’ offense ground to a half in the second quarter and the Blazers slowly chipped into the lead.
Portland could never chain together a serious run, but they did manage to make it a 65-51 game in favor of Charlotte at halftime. Miles and Terry tied for the game-high in points with 17 each and Miles had this nasty dunk right before the break:
There's no point in jumping with Miles Bridges pic.twitter.com/vjk1EBCKZL— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 19, 2021
James Borrego started Carey Jr. in the second half with four fouls, which I thought was a nice vote of confidence in the young big man—just gotta let guys play through it sometimes, and he didn’t pick up his fifth before heading out. Miles and PJ both protected the rim well and did an excellent job cleaning up in help, they were a huge factor in Charlotte’s defense containing Portland’s sixth-best offense (115.9 ORTG).
Eric Collins exclaimed “chicken salad” upon a made 3-pointer from PJ about halfway through the third and it was among the funniest things I’ve heard lately. Terry caught fire from deep at one point and a 9-0 Hornets run stretched the lead to 78-58, and then PJ caught fire from deep and the Hornets rolled into the fourth quarter with a 93-72 lead. Terry had 28/8/5 with two steals after three, PJ had 21 and seven boards, and Miles had 19 points.
This Miles Bridges putback was THIS close to counting pic.twitter.com/aQHp0jY6Ip— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 19, 2021
The Blazers went on a 5-0 run to begin the final frame, prompting a quick timeout from Borrego. Brad Wanamaker had a nice run over a few minutes where he made some nice passes in transition and the halfcourt, which has been his best skill during his Hornets tenure in my opinion. Terry buried a triple to put himself north of 30 points for the first time since March 3, but Carmelo Anthony refused to let Portland die and they slowly crawled back into it.
It was 104-95 in favor of the Hornets with 3:33 left in the game. The Hornets didn’t get many good looks themselves, but they were able to force Anthony into multiple contested looks, and since he was the only Blazer with anything going, Portland fizzled out. He busted his behind for the whole fourth and really did make a game out of it on his own, but Charlotte pulled out the win after all, 109-101.
The final score indicates a much closer game than it was in reality. Portland slowly crawled back after digging themselves into a hole in the first quarter, but a Hornets victory was never truly in doubt in the second half.
Terry finished with 34 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals on 7-13 3P while PJ had 23/8/4 blocks on 5-11 3P. Miles put up 19/5/3 on 7-14 from the field. Anthony had 24 points on 6-12 from deep for the Blazers. McCollum posted 22/6/6.
Tonight’s takeaways; Miles has been incredible, truly taking a step forward as a shot creator and playmaker in the last few weeks; PJ shooting with no hesitancy was nice to see; sneaky good game from Zeller as well; Wanamaker is just a sturdy, reliable backup guard even when shots aren't falling; small ball minutes are the key to fun lineups with all of these injuries; tough one for Big Vern, good learning experience though, hopefully JB lets him try to bounce back on Tuesday.