Terry Rozier led Charlotte with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and five three-pointers made. Mason Plumlee scored a season-high 16 points to go with 12 rebounds and four assists. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 16 points of his own along with eight rebounds and three assists. Dennis Smith Jr. tallied 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. PJ Washington had 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Anfernee Simons chipped in 19 points and six assists for Portland. Shaedon Sharpe posted 17 points and four rebounds while Drew Eubanks totaled 14 points and eight rebounds.
Washington dished to Plumlee to break the ice, and Plumlee found Smith in the corner on the next trip. The Hornets started 3-3 from the field and shot efficiently through the first quarter, but Portland gathered four offensive boards on the first two possessions and five in less than five minutes. Charlotte led 11-10 at the first break with a sizable shot attempt disadvantage, though the Hornets were able to pull away once they were able to secure defensive rebounds with consistency. The Blazers scored five unanswered points to end the first and cut the deficit in half, making Charlotte’s lead 30-25 after one.
The athleticism in Portland’s backcourt flashed often, with Sharpe and Simons each finishing impressive lobs. James Bouknight logged a steal of back-to-back possessions, later canning a step-back three and a pair of free throws that stretched the lead to seven, 47-40. From that point on, the Hornets went ice cold. They didn’t make a field goal across a five-minute span and completely stalled out offensively, allowing the Blazers to outrun them for easy looks, flip the momentum and take control of the game. At the half, Portland led, 58-53.
In the wise words of Eric Collins, the worm turned after halftime. The Hornets went on a 19-2 run out of the locker room, flipping a five-point deficit to a three-point lead by the time head coach Chauncey Billups could call a timeout and eventually amassing a double-digit lead, 72-60. Plumlee was all over the place during the run and Charlotte made three triples to give the offense a jolt, along with really active, aggressive defense and rebounding. But, as the old adage goes, basketball is a game of runs. Portland responded with a 12-0 run to tie it at 72 before taking the lead back as the Hornets went on another five-minute scoring drought mid-quarter, digging themselves a seven-point hole going into the fourth, 86-79.
After mostly trading buckets to open the fourth with Charlotte struggling to cut into the lead before Simons found Eubanks and Hart on consecutive trips to push the Blazers’ lead to 13, 100-87 halfway through the fourth. Portland went on a 40-15 run across 12 minutes dating back to the third quarter before the Hornets woke back up, albeit briefly. Rozier converted a four-point play to get them within seven, 100-93, but that was as close as it’d get for the rest of the evening. The Blazers held serve until the final buzzer, winning 105-95.
- With largely the same roster, Cliff has achieved full defensive buy-in. It’s reflected in the numbers, but we saw it tonight; whenever the Hornets were in control of the game, it was thanks in part to their activity and effort in forcing turnovers and cutting off driving lanes.
- PLEASE, basketball gods, give us a hot shooting night. I understand LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward being out makes that more difficult, but can we get an ungodly Oubre game or another PJ heater here soon?
- Maybe it’s the teal-tinted shades I’m wearing, but the highs from this game made me feel like the Hornets will be playing good basketball at full strength.