The Charlotte Hornets fought hard for three-ish quarters but couldn’t get stops as they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 130-99. LaMelo Ball scored 37 and Miles Bridges chipped in 17 in the losing effort.
Both teams came out of the gate hot, playing fast and making shots. LaMelo Ball was particularly aggressive and put up seven shots in the first five minutes of the game. The Hornets rode that momentum all quarter and played one of if not their best quarter of the season. LaMelo scored 13, and in his return, Miles Bridges scored seven. He entered the game to a smattering of boos, but they were drowned out by cheers.
The second quarter didn’t start quite as well. The Hornets took a timeout after scoring four points in 5 1/2 minutes of the second quarter. That timeout revived the game and was followed by both teams trading haymakers. It quieted down as the half wound down and the Hornets went into the break down by two.
The Hornets struggled to get stops in the third quarter, and after a couple of buckets early, they struggled to score too. The Bucks made seven straight shots at one point, and some Hornets steals were the only thing that kept the game from getting out of hand. The fourth was always going to be an uphill climb, and the Hornets didn’t have the juice to pull it off, especially with how hot the Bucks were from three. It went as far as Khris Middleton losing the ball on the way up for a shot and falling into the lap of Malik Beasley, who cashed in his sixth three of the night.
LaMelo Ball continued his strong play in recent games and all time against the Bucks. He lived in the paint and put a lot of pressure on the Bucks help defense. He got to the line 12 times and scored 37 points. He probably would’ve scored a career high if the game was close enough for him to finish.
Miles Bridges did not look like a player that hasn’t played a competitive basketball game in 19 months. He played 33 minutes and finished second on the team with 17 points. He chipped in five rebounds, four assists, and two steals as well. His ability to create his own offense was an important addition to the lineup, and he was very clearly the second best player on the floor for the Hornets.
Mark Williams was a menace on the offensive glass. Six of his sixteen boards came on the offensive end, and he almost spurred a run in the third quarter purely off his effort in that area.
In very PJ Washington fashion, he followed his best game of the season with a foul-marred clunker. He scored three points, meaning he sandwiched a 32 point performance between games of four points and three points. Consistency!
Gordon Hayward was also a complete nonfactor. Almost all of his nine shots seemed like pull-up jumpers and only one went in. He didn’t get any separation and didn’t seem to have any ideas with the ball in his hands.
The Hornets came into the game with the 30th ranked defense in the league. That’s certainly not going to change after this one. They’ve been annihilated by teams on the 3-point line, and that held true in this one too. The Bucks made 22 3-pointers to the Hornets six. You can’t win games like that.
The Hornets offense reverted to the stagnant, iso-dominant style we saw pretty heavily at the beginning of the season. Part of that was LaMelo Ball hunting for his shot, but there’s still a general lack of offensive cohesiveness that lets the Hornets share the ball effortlessly. They finished with 18 assists on 37 made baskets. There’s just too much forcing up awkward, contested shots around the basket.
The Hornets have less than 24 hours between games. They take on the Knicks at 6:00 on Saturday.