PJ Washington scored 31 points as the Charlotte Hornets exorcised their overtime demons with a win over the defending champion Golden State Warriors, 120-113.
The Hornets came out of the gate hot. They made all six of their shots before the game’s first timeout and raced out to a very early 14-7 lead. The Warriors timeout proved to be effective, as the Hornets missed six straight shots coming out of the short break. They got their sights realigned before too long though, as they went on to pour in 34 first quarter points. PJ Washington was very aggressive hunting his shot and put in 12 points in the opening frame while Gordon Hayward chipped in eight of his own. Nick Richards came off the bench and dominated the offensive glass and got to the line. It all culminated in an 11 point lead heading into quarter number two.
The Hornets carried the cohesive offensive play into the second quarter despite playing extended minutes without a natural shot creator on the floor. They had to withstand a hot streak from Jordan Poole, who dominated offensive touches with the bench units in. The Hornets held their stiff arm as the starters started to filter back in. Those starters went on a 14-3 run that was highlighted by Mason Plumlee stealing cookies from Draymond Green. It didn’t lead to anything, but it was a funny play. At the half, the Hornets maintained a 12 point lead.
Both teams started the second half very poorly. The Hornets threw up a lot of junky shots while the Warriors couldn’t make their slightly better but still not great shot attempts. The Warriors got a spurt from the Splash Brothers to tighten the game up. A strong Kelly Oubre drive and a Dennis Smith 3-pointer slowed the Warriors comeback, but the Hornets couldn’t keep Stephen Curry contained. Five straight from Jordan Poole completed the Warriors comeback and put them up 80-78 at the two minute mark of the third quarter. A couple traded baskets set the score at 83-80 in favor of the Warriors heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets scored six straight points to start the final quarter to restore their lead. The couldn’t make up too much ground though, as they held a three point lead when the Warriors put Curry back into the game. The Hornets didn’t budge when the Warriors went back to their starters, but they did lose rhythm when the Warriors went hack-a-Plumlee. They fouled the Hornets center on three straight possessions, and he made just two of the six attempts before being pulled in favor of Jalen McDaniels.
Following a Warriors timeout, the Hornets had Dennis Smith Jr. on the line for his second free throw with a three point lead. He missed, and the Warriors went on to score seven straight points to take a five point lead with under two minutes to play. A pair of Gordon Hayward free throws stopped the run, but whenever the Warriors needed a bucket, they ran a Stephen Curry/Draymond Green pick and roll that generated an almost uncontested look just about every time.
The Hornets adjusted to put PJ Washington on Green so he could switch onto Curry if they ran the pick and roll. It worked beautifully as the Hornets forward forced a tough shot and a miss. Dennis Smith Jr. drove around Curry for the game tying layup on the other end, then put the clamps on the former MVP to force a desperation heave at the buzzer that missed long, sending the game into overtime.
It took two minutes before either team scored in the extra period, then both teams went back and forth with easy layups. Jalen McDaniels hit a pair of free throws then a three ball to put the Hornets up three. Dennis Smith Jr. made a layup much like his game tying shot at the end of regulation then PJ Washington hit a tough reverse, each to keep the Hornets up five. The Hornets forced a miss on the other end, then Washington hit a pair of free throws to put the game away.
The Hornets got contributions from all over the roster. Washington’s 31 points led the way, but Gordon Hayward had 23 points and Kelly Oubre added 18 of his own. Dennis Smith flirted with a triple double with 13 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. Jalen McDaniels chipped in 12 points off the bench, while the Hornets centers combined for nine offensive rebounds.
The Hornets bounced back from what will maybe be their worst performance of the season with a huge win over the Warriors. They’ll try to keep the momentum up against the Kings on Monday.