Terry Rozier scored 22 points to lead seven Charlotte Hornets in double figures, but they again fizzled in the fourth quarter and lost a double digit lead, the game, and the eight seed to the Washington Wizards, 115-110.
The game started about as well as the Hornets could have hoped for. After some back and forth, the Hornets got hot from deep. They hit seven triples in the quarter as they led by as many as 16. PJ Washington led the way with three of those 3-pointers as part of an 11-point opening quarter. After one, the Hornets led by 14.
The second quarter was not quite as fruitful. The Hornets hit one of their trademark cold spots and scored just four points in the first five minutes of the frame. Meanwhile the Wizards went heavy on Robin Lopez post-ups, and it helped pull them within a couple possessions of the Hornets. Terry Rozier dropped in a couple buckets to get the Hornets going again, and the rest of the quarter was played relatively evenly. At the half, the Hornets led 56-52.
Jalen McDaniels earned a couple of trips to the free throw line early in the second half, and that rhythm helped him splash a corner three to put the Hornets back up double figures. A Wizards timeout broke the run, and they scored all seven points spanning that timeout and another one called by the Hornets a couple minutes later. The Hornets went on their own run after that, scoring 12 straight points, including a pair from LaMelo Ball free throws after he was wrapped around the shoulder/neck area by Davis Bertans going up for a layup. Russell Westbrook was set to shoot a pair of free throws to pull the Wizards within single digits to end the quarter, but a James Borrego challenge flipped the call, ensuring a 90-79 lead for the Hornets after three.
The Hornets brought their very best fourth quarter basketball to the table once again. They were outscored 17-4 in the first 4:21 of the fourth quarter as they watched their comfortable lead get completely wiped away. The Hornets called a timeout to stop the bleeding, and their after timeout play generated a 3-point play for Miles Bridges. The Hornets were able to pull back ahead by as many as five after some back and forth, but the offense again dried up. The Hornets went the final three minutes of the game without scoring a point, and it’s hard to win basketball games that way. The Wizards scored the last seven points of the game as part of a 12-2 run that turned a five point Hornets lead into a five point Wizards win over the final 4:35 of the contest.
The loss is the fifth straight for the Hornets to close the season. The team looks gassed, and they’ve fallen apart in just about every fourth quarter during this losing streak. With this loss, the Hornets drop to the 10 seed in the East. They’ll take on the Pacers on Tuesday. If they can find a way to win that, they’ll take on the loser of Celtics vs Wizards for a chance for the eight seed.