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Hornets Head to Portland After Stunning Win in Sacramento

by Sam Perley

  • Charlotte Hornets (16-17) at Portland Trail Blazers (18-14) 
  • Monday, March 1, 2021 at 10:30 PM EST (Moda Center)
  • Fox Sports Southeast, FOX Sports GO App and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM
  • Last time out: Trail Blazers won, 115-112 on Jan. 13, 2020 in Portland

Charlotte Pulls Off Miracle After Midnight 2.0 Against Kings

Despite missing a trifecta of starters in Gordon Hayward (hand), Devonte’ Graham (knee) and Cody Zeller (hip), the Hornets erased an eight-point deficit in the final 73 seconds to stun the Sacramento Kings with a 127-126 road win on Sunday night. Charlotte got a career-high 42 points from PJ Washington in a small-ball-heavy, eight-man rotation and capped off the improbable comeback with a go-ahead, old-fashioned three-point play from Malik Monk in the final seconds. Against a struggling Kings team, it was one the Hornets needed to have and lo and behold, they once again found a way. 

Damian Lillard Stepping Up for Injury-Stricken Blazers

Portland has stayed in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race despite injuries to both guard CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkić thanks to the extraordinary play of All-NBAer Damian Lillard. The league’s fourth-leading scorer is averaging 31 points on 45% shooting and nine assists in 18 outings since losing his backcourt mate to a broken foot on Jan. 16 (28 points on 44% shooting over the previous 13 games). Much like Friday’s game against Steph Curry, the Hornets will surely be throwing plenty of bodies at one of the most prolific scorers around.  

Ball Movement Not a Staple in Portland’s Offense

The Blazers enter this one ranked last in the NBA in passes per game by a wide margin (244.7), first in isolation possessions (11.1), but just 20th in isolation field-goal percentage (40.9%). Lillard, Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons are handling the bulk of the iso-play, which is leading to the NBA’s seventh-ranked offense (114.7) and second-lowest turnover percentage (11.6%). With much of the league gravitating towards passing and spacing, defending the Blazers’ relatively unique offense will be a different challenge of sorts for the Hornets tonight.  

Preview Quote

“We just have to battle. Whoever is playing tomorrow, we’ll find a way and next man up. I’ll try and limit some long rotations, keep guys fresh. We have to keep battling. It’s been a long year. Guys are battling their tails off on both sides of the ball. It’s not going to be pretty every night, but in the NBA, you have to figure it out.” – Coach Borrego following Sunday’s win in Sacramento

Final Thoughts

The Hornets were staring dead-on at a 1-3 start to their six-game road trip before Sunday night’s surreal finish moved the team back to .500 on their Western Conference voyage. A short-handed Charlotte squad rightfully poured everything into the last-minute comeback and will need to quickly regroup physically and mentally for the second leg of a back-to-back in Portland. 

Additional Notes

F Harry Giles III (left calf strain) has missed the last six games for the Blazers… Portland has lost four consecutive games after going 8-1 from Feb. 2-17 (last three losses all on the road)… The Hornets have dropped six straight to the Blazers and have not won a regular season outing in Portland since March 29, 2008 (12 straight losses)… Charlotte is 4-3 this season on the second night of back-to-backs. 

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