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Oubre Sets Franchise Record, Hornets End Losing Streak

Having dropped five straight and each of the first four on their ongoing all-Western Conference road trip, it’s safe to say the Charlotte Hornets really needed to find a way to win on Wednesday night in Memphis. Thanks in large part to a historic performance from reserve Kelly Oubre Jr., they managed to do just that.

After both sides exchanged sizeable runs in the opening 36 minutes, the Hornets found themselves trailing by eight with 5:31 remaining in the third. Charlotte quickly retaliated with a 25-8 stretch to go ahead by nine early in the fourth, then slowly pushed the advantage to double digits in the closing minutes to bring home a 118-108 victory.

“We continued to stay with it,” said Head Coach James Borrego following the win. “The resiliency the group showed to bounce back after losing the lead, we’re going to need that. In this league, you have to bounce back after a bad loss, bad quarter and keep fighting.”

Oubre finished with a season-high 37 points on 13-of-17 shooting and 7-of-9 from three, breaking the franchise record for the highest single-game scoring total ever by a reserve. He knocked down a pair of threes with under two minutes remaining in the game to stretch the team’s lead from eight to 14, effectively putting the game on ice for the Hornets.

“I think I have the same approach that I do every game,” explained Oubre. “I just try to go one play at a time, one shot at a time. My first couple [shots] were good, so the rim opened up. The goal looked a little bigger for me and I was able to find a rhythm early. The main thing is just being consistent for 48 [minutes]. I just wanted to stay warm and ready and I did that.”

Charlotte also got 25 points from Gordon Hayward and another near-triple-double from LaMelo Ball (12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists). Ja Morant scored 32 points – 19 of which came in the first quarter – although managed just 10 in the second half on 3-of-12 shooting from the field.

Closing games has been a thorn in the Hornets’ side a couple times this road trip, particularly in their most recent two losses to the Clippers and Lakers. This time around, Charlotte got a little bit of everything it needed in the fourth quarter: big shots from Oubre (15 points), aggressive play (15 free-throw attempts in the frame) and 11 points off eight Memphis turnovers.

Added Borrego, “I feel better. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. I think both LA games were a part of that. I thought we played well in the Clipper game, but we did not close out the last six minutes. I liked our effort in the Laker game. I think we showed that same resiliency in the Laker game and we carried it over to tonight. There was a moment tonight where we could have let go of the rope and we didn’t. We kept playing and showed that fight and resiliency. We’re getting there, but we still have a long ways to go.”

A four-game homestand will begin for the Hornets on Friday night, when they host the New York Knicks starting at 7 PM ET at Spectrum Center.