McDaniels’ Career-High 21 PTS Leads Hornets to Win in OKC

Charlotte Takes Advantage of 2nd-Chance Scoring, Thunder Turnovers for Road Victory
by Matt Rochinski

More Coverage: Game Action Gallery | Head Coach James Borrego Postgame | Jalen McDaniels Postgame | Cody Zeller Postgame

The Charlotte Hornets capitalized on their two-day break and got a career-best performance from new starter Jalen McDaniels to knock off the Oklahoma Thunder, 113-102, on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Bumped to the first string in place of the injured Gordon Hayward, McDaniels took advantage of his second career start to finish with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting (3-of-6 from three), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in the win. The second-year forward’s previous career best was just 11, which came in a double-overtime loss in Atlanta back on March 9, 2020.

“[Jalen] played extremely well. He stepped up and I thought he had a major impact on this game,” said Coach Borrego afterwards. “We’re going to need him without Gordon in the lineup. We’re going to need his versatility, shot-making, length and obviously he had a major impact out there on both sides of the ball – not just offense. I thought we was fantastic in transition. We’re going to have to generate some easy baskets in transition and Jalen did that.”

“I was just harping on the same things that I’ve done since college,” McDaniels said. “Just running the floor, playing with a high motor, hitting open shots, making the right reads, the right pass, boxing out, all the little stuff. I feel like it was only a matter of time. Things I’ve been doing my whole life. Today I feel like was just another example of that.”

Oklahoma City stayed within striking distance of Charlotte for the opening 36 minutes and entered the fourth trailing by just eight. The Hornets began pulling away soon after though, using a quarter-opening 7-0 run to take a 92-77 lead with 9:51 remaining on the game clock. The youthful Thunder continued to battle, but never threatened the outcome down the stretch.

Terry Rozier (17 points), Miles Bridges (16), Devonte’ Graham (15) and PJ Washington (12) made it all five Charlotte starters in double figures. Brad Wanamaker added another 12 points and a team-high six assists off the bench and Cody Zeller double-doubled for the fifth time this season, racking up 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in 28 minutes of action.

Forward Aleksej Pokuševski led Oklahoma City with career highs in both scoring (25 points) and three-pointers (7), the latter good for a new rookie single-game franchise record. Fellow international first-year Théo Maledon also had 25 points and five assists, while the Thunder got additional double-digit scoring performances from Jaylen Hoard (13), Svi Mykhailiuk (12) and Tony Bradley (12).

Charlotte scored a whopping 24 points on 22 Oklahoma City turnovers and topped the hosts by 18 points in second-chance scoring (22-4; 8-of-10 shooting). The Thunder had just 12 points off 12 takeaways and has now lost four consecutive games for the first time this season.

The Hornets will close out their six-game road stretch on Friday, April 9 against the Milwaukee Bucks beginning at 9 PM EST. Catch the action on Bally Sports and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM.

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