The Milwaukee Bucks were without their entire starting lineup and PJ Tucker, and as a result the Hornets pulled out a 127-119 win to cap off their road trip behind a game-high 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists from Miles Bridges.
Jalen McDaniels picked up where he left tonight off following a career-high 21-point performance against Oklahoma City. He buried a corner three for the Hornets’ first points and threw down a powerful dunk a few possessions later; he was hustling, attacking off of the bounce and making smart/quick passing reads right out of the gate.
The Bucks played well at first considering the circumstances, though that was due in part to poor perimeter defense from Charlotte. The Hornets played a patient offense, but moved the ball and executed in the half court. A 12-2 run in the mid-to-late first pushed them out to a small lead, and they ended the quarter up 32-27—not playing overly well, but well enough to outscore a wildly shorthanded Bucks team.
Another Hornets’ run, this time 10-2, extended their lead to 11 in the opening minutes of the second. Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier were mostly ineffective scoring the ball in the first half, but Bridges, McDaniels and Cody Zeller all stepped up in their place.
Bridges led all scorers with 17 points on 3-5 3P and 6-6 FT after two quarters, with McDaniels adding 14 and Zeller putting up eight and seven boards. The Hornets went on an 8-0 run to close the half and took a 66-55 lead into the break.
After a quiet first half, Graham and Rozier decided to put the game away in the third quarter. Charlotte ended up outscoring Milwaukee 34-26 in the frame, bolstered by nine points on 3-5 3P from Graham and 11 from Rozier. Heading into the fourth, the Hornets led 100-81.
The game was out of reach for the entire fourth quarter. Milwaukee played a pretty decent game; all of their starters scored in double-figures and they had a few players knocking down triples, but it’d be hard for them to beat any team without Tucker and their entire starting lineup.
Head coach James Borrego kept all of his starters in the game until the Hornets were up by 18 points with about three minutes left. Vernon Carey Jr., Nate Darling, Nick Richards and Grant Riller all got just over two minutes of run prior to the game ending with a final score of 127-119 after the mop-up squad let the Bucks go on a meaningless run late.
The Hornets went 4-2 on this six-game road trip, and tonight’s win put Borrego in fifth place on the all-time wins list for Charlotte head coaches.
Rozier and Graham each ended the game with 20 points, with Graham adding five assists. McDaniels posted 19 points, six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal while Washington had 18, seven boards and four dimes. Zeller had a 10-point 12-rebound double-double off the bench with three blocks.
Quick takeaways from tonight; this might’ve been the worst Martin Twin game in their careers, especially from Caleb; Zeller is in a perfect role as a big-minutes backup center, perfect energy big; Graham and Rozier heat up so quickly it’s insane; back-to-back DNP-CDs for Bismack Biyombo, hard to imagine him in the rotation until the injury bug subsides; Washington is the best defensive big man on this team by a large margin; JALEN MCDANIELS SHOULD’VE BEEN IN THE ROTATION ALL SEASON I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL EVERYONE THIS AND NOBODY LISTENS!!!!