Hayward’s 41 PTS Lead Hornets to Blowout Victory

Charlotte Explodes for 46 1st-Quarter PTS, Notches 3rd Win in Four Trips to San Antonio
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Gallery | James Borrego Postgame | Gordon Hayward Postgame | Cody Martin Postgame

Two nights ago, the Charlotte Hornets were run off the court in a 24-point, road-trip-opening loss to the Dallas Mavericks. On Wednesday evening in San Antonio, they were the ones doing the dominating, knocking off the Spurs in wire-to-wire fashion, 131-115.

The visitors kicked things off erupting for 46 first-quarter points, matching the franchise’s second-highest total ever in the opening frame. Charlotte led by 21 in the opening half, but the Spurs battled back to within single digits a few times in the second quarter. However, a 30-12 third-quarter-closing run gave the Hornets a 28-point advantage and they never looked back.

“We could have been better in Dallas, but we responded tonight,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego after the win. “That was the goal here. The goal is to really come out of this trip a better team. I don’t know who will be healthy on Friday night. We’ll figure it out, but if we play with the right spirit, the same attitude, the right mentality the way we started this game, every one of these games is winnable.”

Gordon Hayward exploded for a season-high 41 points on 15-of-19 shooting, becoming just the second player in the NBA this year along with Steph Curry to record a 40-point game before the end of the third quarter. Cody Martin added a career-high 21 points and Jalen McDaniels double-doubled with 15 points and a season-high 10 rebounds off the bench in his return from Health and Safety Protocols.

“I’m extremely proud of [Gordon],” added Borrego. “He’s been pushing for a game like this for a while. He and I had a great conversation before the game and he played well here last season. He played aggressively. I don’t know. There’s something about this building where he lights up. Now, the goal is that he just continues at this same pace, same aggression. When he plays at that level, he takes us to another level.”

“I think more than anything just the win is what I’m happy about,” said Hayward. “Tough game for us in Dallas where we didn’t play well against a short-handed team. Then to come here on the road in San Antonio and play the way we did in the first quarter where the ball is moving and we’re sharing the ball, it’s a lot of fun out there.”

Charlotte shot a season-best 59% from the field, while connecting on 18-of-34 three-point attempts (53%). San Antonio, which got a season-high 25 points from reserve sharpshooter Bryn Forbes, went just 12-of-37 from deep (32%), but did go 25-of-25 from the charity stripe.

With starting center Mason Plumlee also now back in the mix following a nine-game absence because of a calf strain and Health and Safety Protocols, the Hornets are inching closer and closer to finally having a full deck of players. Both LaMelo Ball and Ish Smith have been ramping up conditioning this week with the Greensboro Swarm and should be at the brink of hopefully rejoining the team soon.

The Hornets will now head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, Dec. 17 beginning at 10 PM ET.

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