Hornets Win Big in Ball and Monk’s Return
Rozier Scores Game-High 29, Charlotte Locks in Defensively
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It didn’t take long for the Hornets to see what kind of impact the return of LaMelo Ball to the starting lineup and Malik Monk coming off the bench would have. Both players returned from extensive layoffs due to injuries on Saturday against Detroit at Spectrum Center and led the Hornets to a 107-94 victory over the visiting Pistons in the first of a string of seven-of-eight games in the Queen City.
Terry Rozier led all scorers with 29 points and went 8-of-15 from behind the arc Miles Bridges added 27 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Ball (right wrist) and Monk (right ankle) showed little rust after missing 40 and 32 days, respectively.
Ball stepped back into the starting lineup and filled the stat sheet as he did all season before breaking his wrist, flirting with a triple-double and finishing with 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, one steal, two blocks and at least one “How-do-you-do?” moment that again had the internet buzzing in 28 minutes of play.
“It was a breath of fresh air just to have that jolt back in the gym with us,” Head Coach James Borrego said. “All our guys have done a good job playing with pace. We found our way playing with pace, even before this, but Melo really takes us to another level in that regard… If there’s a guy who can come back and not miss a beat, it’s LaMelo He’s just got that instinct and feel.”
Monk came off the bench to score 11 points on an efficient 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 from long range. The return of both was a welcome one with Devonte’ Graham help out of this contest with a right knee contusion and Gordon Hayward (right foot strain) still out.
Both LaMelo and Monk played a major role in the key stretch of the game late in the second quarter. With Charlotte trailing 32-30, Coach Borrego opted to go with a three-guard lineup of Rozier, Ball and Monk teamed primarily with Bridges and PJ Washington. The playing group was able to inject the Hornet with some much-needed energy.
After missing their first nine shots from outside the arc as a team, Monk got things going for Charlotte with back-to-back three pointers. Washington would hit and inside jumper after a Saben Lee layup, the Hornets then got back-to-back-to-back treys from Rozier, Ball and Rozier in order to turn a two-point deficit into a 47-34 advantage in just 3:44.
But the Hornets weren’t done there. After finding success on the outside, Charlotte switched things up and took the game to the Pistons in the paint sparked by Bridges. First Washington found Bridges for a jam, followed quickly ba a LaMelo assist to Miles on Charlotte’s next possession. Bridges would then cap an individual run of back-to-back-to-back dunks after blowing by Killian Hayes on the left side and throwing another one down to put up 55-36.
Charlotte didn’t just do it with offense in the 25-4 run either, as they put the clamps on Detroit defensively, holding them to 2-of-11 shooting in the stretch and forcing three Pistons turnovers while protecting the paint. On the night, Charlotte would come up one block short of tying a franchise record, as it turned away 15 Pistons shots, led by five from Bismack Biyombo.
The Hornets would take a 58-42 lead into the break and held the Pistons at bay for most of the third quarter. Detroit made its push late in the third and into the fourth, trimming Charlotte’s lead to 83-80 with 9:33 remaining. Then it was Bridges and Rozier’s turn to shine.
Bridges got the Hornets going with two free throws after getting fouled on one of his thunder-dunk attempts. Rozier and Bridges would then alternate threes on Charlotte’s next three buckets before a Rozier runner capped the Hornets 16-3 run to put the game away.
Frank Jackson led the Pistons with 25 points off the bench, including hitting 6-of-11 three-pointers, while Saddiq Bey also chipped in 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the loss.
The Hornets will get a quick night of rest at home before taking on Miami at 8 PM on Sunday at Spectrum Center. Watch the game on Bally Sports Southeast or listen on WFNZ. Get complete coverage in the Gameday Hub of the Hornets app.