The Charlotte Hornets (21-21) buzzed their guns with their 3-point shooting over the struggling Rockets (12-30) at Toyota Center. The Hornets started off struggling from the field with a lack of effort on both ends. Christian Wood and John Wall lead the charge to take the early lead for the Rockets. The lead quickly shortened with Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier eventually scoring easy baskets. The Hornets effort and defense lead to numerous fastbreak points that were too much for the Rockets. This win capped off a 5 game road trip ending in a 2-3 win-loss record for the team.
The Hornets couldn’t stop the Rockets that started at 6-6 in the field with balanced scoring from their first five. John Wall in particular was excellent being the leader for this team as he created free-flowing offense for the Rockets. Miles Bridges and Cody Martin were effective defensively in stopping the athletic wings of the Rockets.
The Hornets picked up their pace which created easy shots and momentum for the team. Gordon Hayward was an initiator on the offensive side as he put out an easy 8 points. That stimulated a 13-2 run to run to take the lead 20-19 to end the first quarter.
Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham were an absolute force in the 2nd quarter. Both of them carried the offensive load of the team with 3-point shooting and isolation. Graham in particular brought them to a 7-0 run. This carried the momentum to guys like Malik Monk and Miles Bridges. Which led to a 15-4 run at the 7:47 mark of the first half. Rebounding and effort were an issue in the second quarter. The returning big man of the Rockets, Christian Wood, was too big of a task for our forwards and bigs. This caused early foul trouble for Gordon Hayward as the Rockets were starting to gain momentum. At halftime, the score ended up 56-55 with Charlotte leading by 1.
Keys to the Game
The third quarter was where the Hornets took control with Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham exploding early from the 3-point area. This caused an early 7-0 run with the Hornets leading early in the third. It seemed like it would be a blowout early in the game. This wouldn’t be done without the help of Rozier’s 22 points in the 7:28 mark of the third. The Hornets never looked back and started rolling with their defense that caused early fast break points for the team. James Borrego’s dribble-drive offense seemed to be effective with the team which increased the pace. The hot-shooting opened up big like Bismack Biyombo and P.J Washington wide open in the paint. The team prioritized quality-made shots that ended the quarter with an efficient 14/18 in the field. They outscored the Rockets 35-15 in the third.
Balanced scoring from the Hornets was key to how they became an offensive juggernaut all through the second half. Guys like Terry Rozier, Devontae Graham, Malik Monk, and P, J Washington stepped up tonight to carry its lead to an eventual blowout. Each of them scoring 10+ points in this game. They were not only producing some baskets but efficient in doing so as Graham and Rozier had a combined 10-17 in the 3 point line. Even though the Rockets had to return big man Christian Wood on the floor, the adjustment of starting Bismack Biyombo over Cody Zeller brought over athleticism and effort evidently causing the rebounding and points in the pain to be the difference-maker with the two teams
Aside from loosing super rookie, LaMelo Ball with a fractured wrist, the Hornets kept their style of playing leading the break and increasing the pace that caused a lot of open shots for us tonight. There should be a lot of thought now from James Borrego about the way the game had turned out on keeping Biyombo in the starting lineup. It caused a lot of second-chance points for the team for scorers Graham, Rozier, and Monk to make their mark. With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Hornets should be in the market looking for key pieces in the frontcourt as this would be huge going to the playoffs with an inside presence aside from our current bigs.
With a win today and a loss from the Hawks yesterday, the Hornets are now 4th in the Eastern Conference. It would be interesting going forward if they can keep up this play with the lineup back and a healthy LaMelo. The team needs to bounce back from past blowouts against the Clippers, Lakers, and Nuggets to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Hornets head back home against the Miami Heat. This game can be crucial for the long run as both teams are headed for a playoff push. The Heat are currently in the 6th spot of the Eastern Conference and are going to try to end a 4 game loosing streak.
Vs. Miami Heat, Friday, March 26th at 5:00pm Pacific
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Andrew is a current college student from the Philippines with a degree in Business and Information technology. He’s a former varsity player and an avid fan of the game since he was young. In his free time, he spends it playing basketball with his friends and watching Marvel movies and shows. In the future, Andrew aspires to become successful in his business and showcase his passion for the game to others.