Hornets Escape With 5th-Straight Victory
Ball Scores Season-High 32 PTS, Charlotte Beats Indiana to Sweep Homestand
Leading by 25 in the middle of the third quarter, the Charlotte Hornets were well on their way to notching one of their most impressive wins of the season on Friday night at Spectrum Center. It would take a last-second defensive stop to avoid what would have easily been their most painful loss of the campaign.
Charlotte rode a 35-13 run bridging the middle two quarters to open up an 82-57 lead with 6:10 left in the opening frame of the second half, forcing the Pacers to clear the benches looking for a spark. The maneuver paid off as the fresh legs and energy combined with some sloppy Hornets play – 16 second-half turnovers – cut the deficit down to seven with 47 seconds left.
Two more Hornets turnovers, a Jeremy Lamb three-pointer and then another giveaway by the hosts gave Indiana a shot to tie the game on the last possession. Thankfully for the purple and teal, they finally got the defensive stop they needed, as the Pacers couldn’t get a potential game-tying attempt off before the buzzer sounded, losing 121-118.
“Good win. I thought we played well overall,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego afterwards. “We found a way to close it out and we move forward. There’s a lot of growth opportunity and we’ll look at it. To build that lead, I thought we played extremely well. I’m going to focus on that and teach through that. There’s a few things we have to correct down the stretch and we’ll deal with that.”
LaMelo Ball stuffed the statsheet with a season-high 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting, 11 rebounds and eight assists, with Gordon Hayward adding another 25 points. Lamb had 23 points to lead the Pacers against his former team, igniting an Indiana bench unit that scored a whopping 78 points.
“First and foremost, we take the win,” said Hayward. “You have to credit those [Indiana] guys. They kind of mucked up the game a little bit. Trapped, made it unorthodox and we just have to be better at handling that. Credit to them, but certainly something we can learn and get better at.”
Winning in the NBA isn’t easy and the Hornets have now done so in five consecutive outings for the first time since Feb. 14-27, 2018 (also swept a homestand of four-or-more games for the first time since Jan. 9-20, 2010). Charlotte played some of its best basketball of the season, giving itself just enough cushion to walk away with a win and a valuable learning experience.
Borrego added, “I loved the way we were playing first of all. I want to applaud our guys for that. I want to make sure I say that because our guys played extremely well tonight. Probably lost our way end of the third quarter into the fourth and now, it gives us an opportunity to teach. As I said before the game, I’d rather teach through a win. We’ll address some things and get better.”
The Hornets will now embark on a three-game road trip starting tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 20, against the Hawks beginning at 7:30 PM ET in Atlanta.