Recap/Analysis: Hornets come back to win In-Season Tournament game over Wizards

Gordon Hayward had 27 points and eight assists while LaMelo Ball scored 25, and the Charlotte Hornets came from behind in the fourth quarter to take down the Washington Wizards, 124-117.


The Hornets picked up where they left on Wednesday. They started in a 10-0 hole and let the Wizards score 17 points in just over five minutes to start the game. They composed themselves and got back to within a point thanks to a strong rebounding advantage, but ended the first quarter down by five.

The second quarter was where the Hornets lost control of the game on Wednesday. This game was no different. The Hornets were forced to call a timeout at the 8:39 after being outscored 14-6 to start the quarter. At the point, the Hornets were 0-for-11 from three and 4-for-9 from the free throw line. The 13th attempt was finally the first to go in, and it came off the hands of JT Thor of all people. Despite the shooting struggles, the Hornets were able to hang around due to 12 first half offensive rebounds and strong play from Gordon Hayward and Mark Williams. They trailed by six at the break.

The Hornets traded baskets with the Wizards but had a few lapses in transition defense. LaMelo Ball made the Hornets second three of the game on the team’s 21st attempt. The Hornets scored 11 straight points through the middle of the quarter, and Brandon Miller’s jumper off a curl play gave the Hornets their first lead of the game. It was short lived though. Three straight Wizards threes put Washington back on top and helped them to a nine point lead heading into the fourth.

The teams tug-o-warred the beginning parts of the fourth quarter. The Hornets took the lead again with a little over four minutes to play after his third three of the fourth quarter. Gordon Hayward then took a turn with a couple of too-strong buckets in the paint to put the Hornets up five with 1:40 to play. He then found PJ Washington diving to the basket to put the Hornets up seven. After a couple of Tyus Jones free throws, the Hornets got the lead back to seven off Mark Williams’ 20th rebound and 17th point of the

The good

The Hornets showed some scheme adaptability. After getting shredded by Wizards small ball lineups, the Hornets did more switching on the perimeter to limit the 3-point shooting from the bigs. On the other end, the Hornets capitalized on the size advantage with 25 offensive rebounds and approximately 2,000 second chance points. They put the game away with two offensive rebounds for their last two buckets from the field.

LaMelo Ball seems to be out of his funk. He was a little sluggish to start again, but he went nuts in the fourth quarter. He finished with 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and spurred the comeback that was capped off by Gordon Hayward and Mark Williams.

Gordon Hayward played the perfect foil to LaMelo Ball. While Ball got hot from three and sent the Wizards scrambling on the perimeter, Hayward bullied them in the paint to keep them arm’s reach. He finished the night with a team high eight assists and 25 or 27 points or something (the box score was broken while I was writing this).

Mark Williams completely physically dominated the Wizards. He reeled in 20 rebounds, and 12 of them came on the offensive side. He iced the game with two dunks off o-rebs in the game’s final moments. The Hornets were +14 with him on the court during a game they won by seven.

Brandon Miller was mostly quiet, but he had a few really nice mid-range pull-ups that provide a glimpse of what lies ahead once he gets comfortable with NBA basketball. He’s also already one of if not the best perimeter defender on the team.

The Bad

It’s pretty obvious. The Hornets shot an abhorrent percentage from three for most of the game. At its worst, the Hornets were 2-of-23. They got hot late in the fourth quarter to make everyone forget about that, but that’s not a recipe for success. You’d prefer to see them make more shots before they’re desperate.

The Hornets need Terry Rozier back. Theo Maledon had a nice game, but he had a pretty big blunder with a backcourt turnover that could’ve been very costly. Bryce McGowens has been invisible. Some of that is shaking off rust after being out injured, but he’s not been good enough for what the Hornets need right now.

What’s Next

The Hornets are 1-0 in the In-Season Tournament. They’ll use Saturday to enjoy the win (but not too much) before taking on the Knicks in an early matinee at noon on Sunday.

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