Hornets Use Defense, Composure to Defeat Bucks

Rozier Scores 28 PTS, Drains Late 3-Pointer for Charlotte’s 5th Win in 7 Games
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Gallery | James Borrego Postgame | Terry Rozier Postgame | Miles Bridges Postgame

One of the best defensive stretches of the season combined with a spectacular display of maturity in the closing minutes helped propel the Charlotte Hornets to a 114-106 home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.

Terry Rozier finished with a team-high 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting (6-of-10 from three), four rebounds, four assists and two steals in the victory. Miles Bridges (21 points) also crossed the 20-point plateau and LaMelo Ball narrowly missed a triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Charlotte trailed by 10 late in the first quarter before peeling off a 28-12 run to enter halftime leading 47-41. The Hornets, who allowed a quarterly season-low 12 points in the second, kept pushing in the second half and built up a 15-point advantage with 5:18 to go. Milwaukee rolled off a last-ditch 15-4 run, but Ball found Rozier for an out-of-timeout, left-break dagger 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining to seal the win.

“It was all defense,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego afterwards. “That group that came in [at the end of the first quarter] turned it and it carried over to the second quarter. Great urgency, we were mixing up our coverages. It’s not perfect against [the Bucks], but our guys battled. We kept playing, fought against a very tough team.”

He added on the late-game execution: “Those moments are stressful for everybody – both teams, both coaches, both staffs, the entire arena. You feel that moment. I was really impressed with our composure. There were even a couple shots that didn’t fall, but we executed them. I thought LaMelo had composure… he hit the open man and obviously Terry made a big shot. There was a real moment of growth those last few minutes of the game.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with a game-high 43 points – 35 coming in the second half – and 12 rebounds, while also going 18-of-20 from the free-throw line. The Bucks shot a near-season-low 39% and got outscored in bench points by a lopsided 33-5 margin.

Oddly enough, these teams will be right back at Spectrum Center on Monday night for a second consecutive meeting starting at 7 PM ET. The NBA has implemented a handful of similar scheduling abnormalities like this since the start of last season, although this might be the first time the Hornets have won the opener in the playoff-like format.

“You just have to find a way against this (Bucks) group,” said Borrego. “I think it’s going to be another close one on Monday, but we just have to be battling. They bring out the best in us. We have to fight, scrap, claw to get a win on Monday. I think the biggest thing heading into Monday night’s game is who handles this game better? Do they handle their loss better than we handle the win? Or will we have maturity about us and come out swinging again on Monday night with something to prove against the NBA champions. We still have a lot to prove. We have to be the hunter right now and that’s the mentality going into Monday night.”

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