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Recap: Hornets use strong first quarter to cruise to easy win over the Thunder, 121-98

The Hornets avoided another Friday night letdown and thoroughly beat an inferior Thunder team.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Terry Rozier scored 24 while Miles Bridges tallied a 22-point, 13-rebound double double as the Charlotte Hornets cruised to any easy win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, 121-98.

The story going into this game was the Hornets need to keep their guard up after a couple of big wins in the Gardens to avoid a letdown like they had last Friday. They did a good job of attacking the basket early as they clearly made it a point to be aggressive, though they did allow a few too many easy Thunder buckets on the other end. They didn’t take too long to find their footing though and went on a 14-0 run thanks in large part to three early 3-pointers from PJ Washington. The Hornets did a much better job of forcing the Thunder into jumpers and disrupted the flow of their offense. After one, the Hornets led 37-20.

The Hornets went on another brief run early in the second to build their lead up over 20. They did lose Jalen McDaniels during that run of play though. He stepped on a foot during a drive and turned his ankle, though he somehow flipped the shot into the basket in the process. The teams exchanged baskets for most of the rest of the quarter, and the Hornets took a 17 point lead into the half.

The Hornets had a brutal third quarter. They let up defensively but more importantly, they did not play good offensive basketball. The ball movement was uncharacteristically absent, and most possessions were used up by unproductive dribbling and ended with bad shots. The Thunder were able to trim the deficit to single digits, with the Hornets clanging some bad misses as the lead dwindled. A Hornets timeout helped. Kind of. The first possession was about 18 second of dribbling from Terry Rozier, but it at least ended in the right hands with PJ Washington’s sixth three of the night. The Hornets played with a little more energy from there and were able to combine that with some poor Thunder shooting to add some more cushion to their lead. By the end of the third, the Hornets led by 18.

The Hornets stepped on the Thunder’s throat early in the fourth. A Miles Bridges three and a Terry Rozier 4-point play on back to back possessions put the Hornets up 24 and all but ended the game. James Bouknight checked in at the 7:25 mark to get his first burn in a while. He didn’t take long to leave an imprint on the game.

Bridges scored ten points in the fourth to pad the stats while the Hornets pulled away throughout the fourth quarter. The rest of the rooks got some burn in the final minutes and featured a hilarious garbage time lineup that featured JT Thor at the two and Kai Jones at the three.

The Hornets did exactly what they needed to and avoided the letdown against a softer opponent at home after a couple of big road wins. PJ Washington snapped out of his shooting slump to hit six 3-pointers as part of his 20 points. Gordon Hayward played a quiet but efficient 30 minutes while LaMelo Ball came up just short of his second straight triple double.

The Hornets will try to keep it rolling on Sunday against the Hawks.