LaMelo Ball had 23 points and 12 assists, but the Charlotte Hornets were thoroughly outplayed by the Memphis Grizzlies on both ends of the floor and lost, 131-107.
Ball opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the wing. The Hornets followed that with a few bad possessions, but Ball got the offense going by scoring or assisting on the first 14 Hornets points. He scored eight of his own while finding Terry Rozier for a pair of threes for the other six. Outside of that brief run, the Hornets struggled to get good looks against the Grizzlies stringy defense. It seemed like they made a concerted effort to get out and run to mitigate that, but even the transition attempts seemed more hopeful than confident. The Grizzlies converted 58% of their looks on the other end of the floor and held a 40-26 lead after one.
The trend continued into the second quarter. The Hornets were very labored offensively while the Grizzlies manufactured plenty of good looks. David Roddy and Dillon Brooks formed an unlikely star pairing to fuel the Grizzlies expanding lead. LaMelo Ball helped ignite some rapid Hornets offense, but instead of it resulting in a Hornets run, it ended up being part of a back-and-forth exchange with the Grizzlies and resulted in no made up ground. The Grizzlies scored eight straight to put the Hornets behind 76-47 at the half. The Hornets converted only 8-of-27 shots inside the arc in the first half.
The Hornets played better in the third quarter, but it wasn’t nearly enough and was far too late. They played the third quarter evenly and were able to get out on the break and convert a few buckets off Grizzlies turnovers. Cody Martin got his first bucket of the season on one of those breakaways. The Hornets trailed by as many as 35 early in the third, and the large margin between the teams had a clear effect on the intensity of the game. By quarter’s end, the Hornets were back where they started—trailing by 29.
Both teams left main rotation players on the floor to start the fourth quarter, and the Grizzlies started on an 11-3 run to reinforce the already determined result. The Grizzlies finally pulled the plug with 6:34 to go, but the Hornets still rode their starters for a bit longer. It allowed Terry Rozier to get a few buckets for himself and LaMelo Ball to hit one more three, but it had no bearing on the final score.
There wasn’t really anything redeeming about this game. When the game was competitive, the Hornets couldn’t handle the Grizzlies physicality in the paint. They were heavily reliant on jumpers, which if you’ve watched the Hornets at all this year, you know doesn’t go well. They actually held up pretty well on the glass, but it was far from good enough.
Terry Rozier finished with 21 points, but almost all of that came in the first few moments of the game and in garbage time. PJ Washington and Jalen McDaniels were the other two Hornets that finished in double figures.
Things don’t figure to get any easier as the Hornets start a four game road trip on Friday in Milwaukee against the Bucks.