Hornets Withstand Pacers Comeback to Close Out 2021
Rozier Explodes for Season-High 35 PTS, Charlotte Notches 3rd-Straight Victory
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Making their first appearance in Indianapolis since a painful Play-In Game loss back in May, the Charlotte Hornets held off a relentless Pacers squad to wrap up 2021 with a hard-fought 116-108 victory on Wednesday night.
Terry Rozier finished the evening with a season-high 35 points – 13 in the fourth – seven rebounds and five 3-pointers in the victory. LaMelo Ball just missed out on his third triple-double of the campaign, racking up 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
Charlotte built an 18-point first-half lead, but a stagnant third quarter cut the advantage down to eight heading into the final frame. With the Pacers having chipped the deficit to five with three minutes left, Ball tipped a jump-ball away from Myles Turner to Cody Martin, who fired a pass into a catch-and-shoot Rozier three. Rozier would then can another contested corner three on the next possession, giving the Hornets enough breathing room down the closing stretch.
“We started off with a defensive mentality. I thought our aggression was there from the start,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego afterwards. “Lost our way a little bit in the third quarter. We had some good looks, but we couldn’t find the hole there. In general, I love the mentality. We had a number of guys step up. It wasn’t the prettiest win at times, but we found a way. You do that with your effort, staying together, staying the course, not giving in.”
Added Rozier, “I’m feeling really confident. As you can see, I’m not hesitating at all from the beginning all the way until the end. I can score the ball. I’ve always been like that all my life, so it’s a matter of me looking at myself in the mirror and not worrying about how things play out. I always give credit to my coaches and my teammates because they allow me to be me and they’re always looking for me. I don’t want that to go unnoticed.”
Gordon Hayward added 18 points to the Hornets’ total, while Mason Plumlee finished with eight points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Caris LeVert poured in a team-high 27 points on just 8-of-23 shooting and six assists for the equally short-handed Pacers, who were without a pair of backcourters in Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb.
Charlotte connected on a season-low 9-of-26 3-point attempts (35%) and also went an ice-cold 19-of-32 from the free-throw line (59%). The visitors did manage to drain 35-of-59 2-point attempts (59%) though, and edged out a big Indiana squad by three rebounds (48-45).
Still without Miles Bridges and PJ Washington for the second straight outing because of Health and Safety Protocols, the Hornets found a way to notch their third consecutive win thanks in large part to 71-point first-half performance. Things got a touch dicey in the final few minutes, but thankfully, Charlotte had already put itself in position to win and then got the decisive plays it needed to make it happen.
The Hornets will now have another three full days of rest before tipping off the new year on Sunday, Jan. 2 against the Phoenix Suns beginning at 7 PM ET at Spectrum Center.