The Charlotte Hornets were thoroughly dominated despite 34 points from LaMelo Ball and lost to the Wizards, 132-116.
The Hornets didn’t start the game as well as you would’ve liked. They got a handful of open looks from three but struggled to cash them in. LaMelo Ball made up for it with a flurry of buckets to end the first and put the Hornets up five. The Wizards took the lead with three straight 3-pointers to start the second. The Hornets struggled to cover the center version of Danilo Gallinari. Meanwhile, the offensive spacing was terrible and the ball didn’t really move. The Hornets were outscored 32-9 before a TV timeout mercifully slowed down the bleeding. The Hornets ended up being outscored 41-17 in the second quarter and did everything poorly. They went into halftime down by 19.
The Hornets looked like they were going to make a push. Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball spurred a strong start to the second half and narrowed the deficit to as little as eight. A Wizards timeout stopped the momentum, and the Wizards reestablished their 19 point lead by the two minute mark of the quarter. The Hornets gave up a total of 79 points across the second and third quarter and went into the fourth quarter still down by 19.
The Hornets needed a quick run to start the fourth quarter to give themselves any chance at a comeback, but they didn’t get it. They continued to have no answer for the Wizards offense and were on pace to comfortably give up another 30 point quarter before the benches emptied. The Wizards hit the 120 point mark with 7:31 still left to play. The rest of the game was garbage time.
LaMelo Ball seems to be fully back. He had 34 points and seven assists but even beyond the box score, he was the only Hornet that did much of anything. If the rest of his teammates can catch up, there’s something here.
Gordon Hayward continued his strong play. He was a key part of the pretend comeback in the third quarter. He scored 18 points and filled the rest of the stat sheet.
Mark Williams continues to not miss shots. He made all five of his field goal attempts and scored 14 points.
Pretty much everything else. The Hornets finished with more turnovers than assists. The offense consisted of a lot of standing still waiting for ball screens. The spacing was bad and the Hornets looked like they didn’t know how to play together. Defensively, they were shredded by pick and pops and couldn’t keep track of the Wizards on the perimeter. It was poorly played, poorly coached basketball.
I don’t think there’s a need to delve into individual struggles. The Hornets were simply bad across the board.
The Hornets will have a chance for immediate revenge. They travel up to DC to take on this same Wizards team in their first ever in-season tournament game on Friday.