Hornets Rally from 18-PT Deficit for Win in New Orleans

Hayward Scores 26 PTS, Ball Flirts with NBA History in Comeback Victory
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Action Gallery

Gordon Hayward Highlights | Coach Borrego Interview | LaMelo Ball Interview | Devonte' Graham Interview

A four-game road trip that got off to a tough start in Philadelphia ended with two consecutive victories capped off by a 118-110 come-from-behind win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, Jan. 8 at the Smoothie King Center.

On the heels of his career-high 44-point outing in Atlanta two nights ago, Gordon Hayward stayed hot with 26 points (22 in the second half) on 9-of-18 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the win. Hayward also crossed the 10,000-point mark for his career with this performance, becoming just the fourth member of the 2010 Draft class to do so (Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall).

New Orleans shot 67% and knocked down 7-of-10 three-point attempts in the first quarter, racing out to a 38-22 lead after the opening 12 minutes. Charlotte eventually fell behind by 18 in the second before getting the deficit back down to five by the end of the third after hitting 11-of-26 three-point attempts and scoring 14 points off takeaways over the middle two frames.

Devonte’ Graham finally put the Hornets ahead 105-103 with an old-fashioned three-point play at the 5:46 mark of the fourth. Following a Pelicans basket on the next possession, Charlotte ripped off an 11-2 run to open up a nine-point lead with less than two minutes on the clock. New Orleans never got closer than six the rest of the way, sealing the win for the visitors.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said Coach Borrego after the win. “It did not look good that first quarter, but nobody was hanging their head at the timeouts. We refocused. I would say this is a resilient win to fight back from being down eighteen and not being able to shoot the ball well. We believed over time our system and our style would win out and it turned for us. Ball started going in the hoop, ball movement was there. It was just a matter of time.”

Miles Bridges (20 points), Graham (17), Terry Rozier (15), LaMelo Ball (12) and Bismack Biyombo (11) all also scored in double figures for the Hornets. Ball added game-high marks in both rebounding (10) and assists (9) in 26 minutes off the bench, coming up just short of breaking the record for the youngest NBA player to ever record a triple-double.

Zion Williamson led New Orleans with a team-high 26 points and eight rebounds and Josh Hart added 19 points and another eight rebounds off the bench. The Pelicans also got double-digit scoring performances from Brandon Ingram (17 points on just 3-of-11 shooting, only one shot being a two-pointer), JJ Redick (17) and Steven Adams (13).

Charlotte outrebounded New Orleans by nine (45-36) and scored 26 second-chance points compared to just 10 from the Pelicans. The hosts also finished the night with a back-breaking 19 turnovers, leading to 27 points for Hornets, who picked up just their fourth regular season win all-time in the Big Easy (4-12 now).

Borrego added when asked about his final thoughts on splitting the road trip, “I’ll keep using the word resiliency. We had a tough start to the road trip against a very good Philadelphia team. I thought we got better there, but we weren’t perfect. It was a resilient win in Atlanta and same thing tonight – I thought it was a resilient win. I think it speaks volumes about [our players’] character. I love that they don’t give in. We keep fighting, keep competing.”

The Hornets will now close out a back-to-back set tomorrow night, Saturday, Jan. 9 against the Atlanta Hawks starting at 7 PM EST at Spectrum Center. Catch the action on Fox Sports Southeast, the Fox Sports GO app and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM

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