Hornets Avoid Disastrous Loss With Late Defensive Stand

Terry Rozier Highlights vs Wizards - 12/02/22

Charlotte Nearly Squanders 22-PT Lead, But Holds Off Washington’s Late Comeback Attempt

Three of the best quarters of the season for the Charlotte Hornets rolled into easily one of their worst on Friday night, but in the end, they still walked out of Spectrum Center with a nail-biting 117-116 home victory over the Washington Wizards.

Terry Rozier returned from a one-game absence to lead Charlotte in both points (25) and assists (eight) in the victory, the team’s third straight at home. Kelly Oubre Jr. (22) and PJ Washington (21) also cracked the 20-point barrier, giving the Hornets three different 20-point scorers in the same game for the second time this season.

Charlotte roared its way to a 107-88 lead through the opening three quarters, thanks largely to a +15 differential in points scored off turnovers. The Wizards wouldn’t go quietly though and started the fourth on an 25-8 run to pull within three with four minutes to go. PJ Washington’s ensuing layup stopped some of the bleeding, but Bradley Beal then scored four unanswered points to make it a one-point game 90 seconds later.

With the score still 117-116 following multiple empty possessions by both sides, the Wizards had another crack at a go-ahead basket, but Oubre stripped Beal for a steal at the 35-second mark. After Charlotte failed to score again at the other end, Beal missed a contested elbow jumper, leading into a missed Daniel Gafford tip-in and PJ Washington defensive rebound. Left with just 0.2 seconds on the clock, Charlotte completed the inbounds to end the game.

“That game turned the last two-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford afterwards. “They went bigger and we could not get a rebound. We lost our concentration, lost our intensity with that group in there. And it gave them a chance, which in this league, that’s all you need. You let your guard down, stop playing possessions and that’s what can happen.”

Rebounding and fouling were two major issues for the Hornets in this one, particularly in the fourth quarter. Washington was +11 on the glass overall – 20-10 advantage in the fourth – and went 26-of-35 from the line (74.3%), with half of those makes coming over the final 12 minutes (13-of-14; 92.9%). Charlotte’s 10 fourth-quarter points were its fewest ever in a win and the -18 fourth-quarter differential was tied for the lowest in a win in franchise history.

Individually, Mason Plumlee double-doubled with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Nick Richards nearly did so as well, putting up 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Beal had a game-high 33 points and seven assists to lead the Wizards, while Kristaps Porziņģis added 21 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and a season-high-tying 11 made free throws (7-of-7 in the fourth).

Flirting with near disaster at the end of this game can lead to some mixed feelings about how this game ultimately played out. At the end of the day though, it’s all about winning in the NBA, no matter how it gets done. And if there’s any team in the league that deserves a little bit of good fortune here and there, it’s the Hornets.

Said Rozier, “We got the win. That’s the most important thing. No matter how ugly it is, the league is about wins and losses. We definitely got to clean up a lot of stuff – physical play, defensive rebounding. That’s an area we’ve got to get better at and we know that.”

The Hornets will now close out their all-home back-to-back against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Dec. 3 starting at 6 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ FM 92.7.