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Recap: Hornets crumble in second half, lose to Kings, 115-108

The Hornets had the game in hand until a disastrous third quarter.

Sacramento Kings v Charlotte Hornets

PJ Washington scored 28 points, but the Charlotte Hornets blew a 15 point halftime lead and lost to the Sacramento Kings, 115-108.

The start of the game was ugly and marred by whistles. The Hornets were a bit sluggish out of the gate, but they were significantly better than the Kings who missed all seven shot attempts and committed three turnovers before the first TV timeout. The stoppage seemed to ignite the offenses, as both teams exploded offensively coming out of the break. Jalen McDaniels hit a pair of threes almost immediately upon entering as part of eight first quarter points off the bench. The Kings got a similar spark from Davion Mitchell, who scored 10 off the bench in the opening quarter. Both teams turned the ball over seven times in the quarter, but the Hornets hot shooting gave them a 34-24 advantage heading into quarter two.

The early parts of the second quarter mirrored that of the first. Both teams struggled with turnovers and missed shots. The Kings tried to disrupt the Hornets offense with heavy ball pressure, but the Hornets adjusted well within a couple of possessions. The offenses got going again as the starters returned to the game, Mason Plumlee had a couple of dunks off the dribble as centers do and forced a Kings timeout simply off the pure absurdity of what they just witnessed.

The dunks started a run of nine straight points for the Hornets, who had lost a bit of their lead over the course of the period. By halftime, the Hornets restored their lead to 15 points thanks in no small part to Plumlee’s eight points in the final four minutes of the quarter. Dennis Smith Jr. paced the team with 13 points and six assists in the half.

The Kings opened the second half with seven straight points and followed a couple of Hornets buckets with another 7-0 run to pull within six. PJ Washington bullied his way to the basket for a couple of buckets to slow the run, but the Kings responded with another mini-run and took the lead on a Matthew Dellavedova three, of all people. The Kings got hot from deep while the Hornets threw up a lot of very ugly shots on the offensive end. The Hornets struggled in all facets of the game—they turned the ball over seven times, gave up 15 second chance points, and committed seven fouls. The 17-0 Kings run was finally stopped by a James Bouknight 3-pointer A second Bouknight three brought the Hornets to within four heading into the final quarter.

The Hornets ran their offense through PJ Washington to start the fourth quarter to good effect, then Kelly Oubre checked in and splashed a triple to retake the lead for the Hornets. The lead was short lived though—the Kings answered with three straight triples to retake the lead. The Hornets tried to keep going through Washington, but the Kings wised up and cut off the driving lanes. The Hornets struggled to keep the offensive output up, and the Kings hot shooting from deep put the game out of reach. The Hornets forced a late miss with a chance to tie, but Mason Plumlee got stripped of the ball trying to dribble through traffic in transition. The Hornets next possession ended before it got started, as they were called for a 5 second violation, which ended the game for all intents and purposes.

PJ Washington struggled in crunch time when the Kings keyed in on him, but his development into go-to scorer in recent games is surprising and extremely exciting. The Hornets crumbled in the second half, but that’s much less likely to happen when their guard rotation is healthy again.

It’s a very frustrating loss, but there were good things to take away from it. The Hornets will try to get back on track on Wednesday in Chicago against the Bulls.