Hornets Fall Behind Big Early To Phoenix In Road-Trip-Closing Loss  

Terry Rozier Highlights vs Suns - 01/24/23

Charlotte Trims 30-PT Deficit to Eight, Can’t Match Suns’ Season-High-Tying 22 3-Pointers

Outside of a late surge in the second quarter, the Charlotte Hornets were simply just overmatched in the finale of their four-game road trip on Tuesday night, falling to the Phoenix Suns, 128-97.

Terry Rozier led the Hornets in scoring for the fourth straight outing, finishing with a team-high 19 points, four 3-pointers, five assists and two steals in the loss. Mason Plumlee added 17 points and Jalen McDaniels tallied 15 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and two steals for his second double-double of the season and fifth overall of his career.

Phoenix furiously blazed its way to a 50-20 lead with seven minutes still remaining in the first half, but the Hornets finally woke up and closed the second quarter on a 27-8 run to enter the break trailing by only 11. Any hope Charlotte had of summitting the steep comeback mountain came crashing down in the second half though, as the sharp-shooting Suns won the final two frames by a combined margin of 70-50. 

“Our effort was really good. [Phoenix] shot the ball well and we did not,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford following the loss. “For us, especially with the guys that didn’t play tonight, to beat them, we’re going to have to have a bunch of guys play at a really high level offensively. The fight was good. This was a tough trip here.”

LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre Jr. were all sidelined with injuries for Charlotte, which opened the door for Bryce McGowens (five points, four rebounds and three assists) to make his first career NBA start. For the second straight night, the difference in 3-point shooting was a substantial factor in the final outcome – the Hornets went just 6-of-25 from deep (24.0%), while the Suns sank a season-high-tying 22-of-40 attempts (55.0%) and also won the rebounding battle, 55-39.

Added Clifford, “I think there’s things we can build on. I thought our effort was good. Tonight, we got down, especially when we’re not shooting the ball [well]. We need those guys back to have a chance to beat a team like this. A lot of [the 3-point shooting] is personnel-based. When we have everybody, we have very little room for error. When we’re playing without those guys, it’s difficult. Our guys played hard. They were disappointed last night. They were disappointed again tonight. They have a good attitude about it and it’s part of playing in this league.”

Cam Johnson had a game-high 24 points – 16 of which came in the first quarter on 6-of-6 shooting – and six 3-pointers to help lead Phoenix to its fourth straight victory and sixth in seven meetings with Charlotte. Dario Šarić added 19 points off the bench, Mikal Bridges scored 18 points and Chris Paul double-doubled with 14 points and a game-high 11 assists.

The Hornets will now return home to host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, Jan. 26 beginning at a slightly-later-than-usual 7:30 PM ET. Catch all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ FM 92.7.