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Recap: Hornets’ win-streak ends against Suns, falling 105-91

Booker and Durant combined for 57 points for Phoenix.

Phoenix Suns v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets trailed wire-to-wire as their five-game win-streak came to an end at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, 105-91.

Kelly Oubre Jr. led Charlotte (20-44) with 26 points and nine rebounds. Terry Rozier turned in 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. Gordon Hayward added 15 points and four rebounds and Mark Williams posted his fifth-career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Dennis Smith Jr. had eight points, six rebounds and five assists.

Devin Booker scored 37 points to lead Phoenix (34-29), adding six rebounds and seven assists. Kevin Durant put up 23 points and six rebounds in his Suns debut. Deandre Ayton tallied 16 points and 16 rebounds.

The Suns opened the game on an 11-0 run, holding the Hornets scoreless for nearly four minutes and missed their first seven field goal attempts; Charlotte’s first bucket of the game came on a Williams elbow jumper at the 7:16 mark. The Hornets picked it up in a hurry though, jumping out to a 16-6 run capped off by a beautiful Hayward/Williams pick-and-roll to get within one, 17-16. Phoenix fired back with a run of their own, but Smith hit a layup with 12.6 seconds left and then beat the first-quarter buzzer with a deep triple to make it 27-22 in favor of the Suns after one.

Durant checked back in to start the second and put up a quick seven points to help push their lead back beyond double-digits. Charlotte’s shooting efficiency trailed off in unison, falling to 30.3 percent early in the second. Phoenix outscored Charlotte 21-8 through the first eight minutes of the second as the gap widened to 18 points, 48-30. On the bright side, Hayward surpassed 12,000 career points late in the quarter — cool milestone. His offense was really the only effective option for the Hornets in the second apart from some flashes from Williams and Kai Jones. The Suns ended up outscoring the Hornets 30-19 in the second to take a 57-41 lead into the locker room.

A deep three from Hayward brought the Hornets within nine soon after the third began. Williams chased down Chris Paul on a fastbreak and pinned his layup against the glass, igniting the Spectrum Center crowd and making up for goaltending Booker’s and-one on the previous possession. Oubre converted an and-one and nailed a triple to bring Charlotte’s deficit to eight, 69-61 in the middle of the third, but the Suns responded with a 6-0 run. Booker dropped 17 points on 6-10 shooting in the third but a late 8-1 run from Charlotte highlighted by Oubre’s poster dunk on Jock Landale made it 79-73 heading into the fourth.

Oubre skied for an emphatic rejection of a Landale layup early in the fourth — he was giving that poor guy hell for a few minutes there. The Hornets hung around for the rest of the game but couldn’t get any closer than the two-possession deficit they hung onto at the end of the third. With 6:53 to play, the Suns led 91-82, and their lead would only grow from there on out. Charlotte played reasonably well, but the shooting efficiency was never really up to snuff tonight. In the end, Phoenix won, 105-91.

No more winning streak. The difference in how smoothly the offense operates with and without LaMelo Ball is staggering; not that we haven’t already gotten to experience that, sadly. Nobody could buy a bucket tonight, with the team finishing at 36.4 percent from the floor and 27.3 percent from downtown. They did shoot 28 free throws, though. If they can continue to get into the paint and draw contact, water will find it’s level sooner or later.

The Hornets are back in action on Friday, March 3 when they face the Orlando Magic at home.