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Recap: Hayward leaves game with injury as Hornets fall to Bulls, 106-88

The veteran forward remained in the locker room after halftime due to left shoulder soreness.

Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

A cold start from downtown coupled with Gordon Hayward’s early departure due to injury led to the Charlotte Hornets falling to the Chicago Bulls, 106-88.

Kelly Oubre Jr. led all scorers with 24 points, tallying five made threes and five rebounds. Mason Plumlee notched a double-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Jalen McDaniels stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, a career-high five steals and two blocks. Dennis Smith Jr. turned in 10 points, five rebounds and six assists.

Patrick Williams drew first blood with a reverse finish, and Kelly Oubre Jr. responded with a left elbow pull-up on the ensuing possession. The Hornets struggled to create open looks in the halfcourt early as the Bulls got out in front, but Hayward began getting to his spots in the mid-range with ease as the quarter developed. He missed a few easy layups, but the paint touches helped open up the offense, which was given another jolt when James Bouknight checked in. An 11-2 run gave the Hornets an 18-14 lead late in the first, though it was quickly erased by a few threes from Goran Dragic and Javonte Green. Chicago led 27-26 after one.

Smith kicked to Oubre for a three to open the second quarter. The Smith-Oubre-McDaniels-Washington-Richards lineup looked cohesive offensively and was largely playing good defense, but all of Chicago’s role-players were on fire — the Bulls bench made six threes in the first half. The Hornets defense was collapsing too far off Vučević at times in the second quarter, allowing him to can a pair of triples that helped Chicago stretch the lead to double-digits. It didn’t help that Charlotte couldn’t buy a three themselves despite creating plenty of good looks, especially in transition. The Bulls took a 61-52 lead into the locker room, bolstered by the discrepancy in three-point percentage; Chicago shot 56.3 percent (9-16) from deep while the Hornets shot 25 percent (4-16) in the first half.

Hayward didn’t start the second half and was ruled out for the rest of the game with left shoulder soreness. McDaniels started in his place and got to the rim a couple of times early in the third but couldn’t finish, though he was countering inefficient shooting with active defense all night long. Three quick triples from Oubre sliced into the deficit and brought the Hornets within one possession, 64-61, before Chicago responded with a 7-2 run to give themselves a cushion that steadily grew as the quarter went on. Without Hayward, it became really tough to score and the cold-shooting offense stagnated, leading to an 84-70 deficit after three.

The Bulls, with the help of a hot-shooting second unit and group of role-players, built a 93-76 lead within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, all but putting the game out of reach for a depleted Charlotte squad. A LaVine three put the Hornets down 20, 96-76, with about eight minutes to go and the gap didn’t shrink much from that point onward. Eric Collins and Dell Curry eventually started talking about Chicago-style hot dog condiments. The Hornets lost to the Bulls with a final score of 106-88.

Without Hayward, the Hornets were all but doomed. Head coach Steve Clifford can only expect so much from a group of role-players that were already struggling to make shots tonight. It’s only November 2, but the Hornets could already use a few days off to get guys healthy.

Stats of the Night:

One Sentence Recap:

The Bulls got hot and the Hornets did not.