The absence of the Hornets starting back court was apparent early on. The Hornets struggled to get penetration offensively and the spacing was not good at all. The scoring struggles allowed the Hawks to race out to an early double digit lead. James Bouknight finally opened his scoring for the season with a pair of free throws then a step back 3-pointer. The Hornets bowed up to hold the Hawks back from running away early. After one, they trailed by eight.
PJ Washington opened the second quarter with a pick and pop 3-pointer set up by Theo Maledon. Those were the first of 11 straight points for the Hornets to start the second quarter and take a 3 point lead, Seven of those points were scored by Dennis Smith Jr. Bouknight hit another three to make it a 14-0 run before the Hawks finally got a shot to fall. Smith found JT Thor for an alleyoop to open the latter’s scoring for the season.
Nick Richards cleaned up on the offensive glass and in the paint for a few buckets and found Bouknight with a baseball pass in transition to make his stamp on the game.
The Hornets scored in multiples of three to start the second half and broke the game open. They led by as many as 18 before the Hawks responded with a small run of their own to get the game back under control. Richards poured in a few interior buckets in the later stages of the quarter as the Hornets put the game seemingly out of reach. They scored 45 points in the quarter and led by 20 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets struggled to manage the lead in the fourth quarter. AJ Griffin checked into the game and made a couple of quick baskets. The Hornets shot themselves in the foot offensively and the Hawks looked like they were going to make a run. Dennis Smith Jr. stopped the bleeding with a couple of layups after the Hawks trimmed the Hornets lead as small as 11. He and Oubre shouldered most of the Hornets offense until the game was put on ice with a few minutes to play.
Richards tallied his first career 20-and-10 game with his 20 points and 11 rebounds. Oubre and Smith did the bulk of the offensive creation for the team and finished with 24 and 18 points respectively. Bouknight broke out of his slump a bit with 10 points and a more confident looking floor game.
It’s a bonus win for the Hornets who wouldn’t have been expecting this result given the absences in the back court. The Hornets will have two days off before trying to make it two in a row against the Knicks on Wednesday.