Defense Falters Again in Chicago

Rozier Scores 31, Ball Double-Doubles; Charlotte Allows Season-High FG% in Loss
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Gallery

For the second time in as many outings, a lackluster defensive performance forced the Charlotte Hornets into a large hole that a late comeback attempt simply couldn’t undo, resulting in a 133-119 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night at the United Center.

Unlike its outing in Houston two days ago, Charlotte got off to a solid start before a second-quarter-ending 20-7 Bulls run gave the hosts a 11-point halftime lead. Chicago continued to get whatever it wanted offensively, stretching the advantage to 19 by the start of the fourth. The Hornets did rally to within four in the final frame, but a 9-0 Chicago stretch put the game away.

“We just have to be better defensively,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego afterwards. “We have to figure it out together. It’s a long season. We were disappointed in our last game against Houston. Obviously, disappointed tonight. We just have to correct it. Our offense is fine – it’s the defensive end that’s the problem. All of us have to be better.”

Terry Rozier had a game-high 31 points and LaMelo Ball added 18 points and 13 assists, becoming the first Charlotte player with three straight games of 13+ assists since Brevin Knight in March of 2005. Chicago’s Nikola Vučević totaled 30 points (6-of-6 from three), 14 rebounds and five assists, while DeMar DeRozan (28) and Zach LaVine (25) also cracked 20 points.

Chicago shot a red-hot 59.6% from the field, the highest by a Hornets’ opponent this season by over four percentage points (previous: 55.2% at Sacramento on Nov. 5). The Bulls also connected on 14-of-30 three-point attempts (47%) and went 28-of-40 in the paint for 56 points.

This contest marked the third consecutive game that Charlotte was without starting center Mason Plumlee and top wing defender Cody Martin was also out with an illness. Nick Richards made his first career NBA start against the two-time All-Star big man Vučević, but ultimately, there was only so much the team could do to slow down the Bulls’ high-powered offense.

Added Borrego, “We just have to be better on the ball overall to be a better defensive team. We’ve shown we’re capable of doing that. I thought we were making strides defensively. Obviously missing Cody and Mason is huge. Two veterans that know how to play, savvy defensive players. Even in the Minnesota game [last Friday], we just outscored them. For us to be our best defensively, we have to have Mason and Cody in the lineup. Until then, it’s on these guys.”

The Hornets will now stay in the Midwest for a tough battle with the defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, Dec. 1 beginning at 8 PM ET.

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