Terry Rozier scored 28 points while Mason Plumlee chipped in a 21 point, 12 rebound double double as the Charlotte Hornets overcame poor outside shooting to defeat the Chicago Bulls, 111-96.
The Hornets got off to a hot start. They hit four 3-pointers in the first four-plus minutes of the game, and an early 10-0 run but them up by six and forced a Bulls timeout. Gordon Hayward showed he still has some bunnies by blocking a Zach LaVine layup/dunk at the rim on a fast break.
GET IT OUT! @gordonhayward | #LetsFly pic.twitter.com/She7KkkIe2— Bally Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnBally) January 27, 2023
That was about the last bit of defense the Hornets would play in the first quarter. The Bulls scored on their next seven possessions to force a Hornets timeout. Both teams shot over 50% from the field in the quarter with the Bulls shooting 65%. After one, the Hornets trailed 36-32.
The Hornets tightened the screws defensively, but the offense fell off in conjunction to prevent them from gaining ground on the Bulls. The 3-pointers that were falling at the beginning of the game stopped going down, so the offense became reliant on dunks and free throws, and they didn’t get many of either. The Bulls only made one 3-pointer in the second quarter, and that was one more than the Hornets made out of their ten attempts. After a low scoring second quarter, the Hornets trailed 55-47 at the half.
The offensive struggles continued into the third quarter as the Hornets continued to rely on interior baskets and free throws for all of their offense. The Hornets finally came to life after a couple of steals by Terry Rozier that he complemented with three straight difficult left handed layups. They made up the last six of ten straight Hornets points to tie the game with four minutes to go in the third. The Hornets went on to take the lead for a brief spell, but a 7-0 Bulls run to close the quarter but them up by two heading into the fourth.
Mark Williams scored four early points in the second quarter to stymie the Bulls run and even the game. The game turned into a free throw contest from there as the teams traded freebies and kept the game level. LaMelo Ball finally knocked down the team’s first three since the first quarter after what seemed like 15 straight misses. It was combined with a tough fallaway from Gordon Hayward and an assist from Hayward to Mason Plumlee to put the Hornets up by nine with 5:43 to go. The teams traded difficult baskets as time ticked away. The Hornets finally put it away when Plumlee went iso on the wing and hit a mid range jumper over Nikola Vucevic.
HOLD THE FOLLOW THROUGH BIG FELLA! @masonplumlee | #LetsFly pic.twitter.com/oE7IceAhks— Bally Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnBally) January 27, 2023
The Hornets played the free throw game to set the final score.
The Hornets almost completely abandoned the three ball for most of the second half and went all out attacking the basket. They played with a lot of energy on both sides of the ball, which made the aggressiveness on offense work out. They made just seven of 32 3-point attempts, but they got to the free throw line 31 times and shot 61.5% inside the arc.
Rozier scored 14 of his 28 in the first quarter and then came alive in the second half to push the Hornets along. Plumlee continued the best run of play of his career, and according to Eric Collins on the broadcast, now has the best field goal percentage over a 20 game stretch in NBA history.
Ball struggled with his shot after missing a few games with wrist and ankle injuries, but he made up for it by getting to the free throw line and contributing across the box score like he usually does.
The Hornets will have two days off before a matinee with the Miami Heat on Sunday.