Down several key bodies once again, the Charlotte Hornets needed some big-time performances on Thursday night in Brooklyn, and they certainly got one from Terry Rozier in a thrilling back-and-forth 129-128 road victory over the Nets.
Without LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller in the backcourt, Rozier grabbed the reins and totaled a season-high 37 points – 10 in the fourth quarter – on 13-of-25 shooting, four rebounds, a career-high 13 assists and two steals in 40 minutes. He also knocked down 7-of-9 3-point attempts – more than doubling his season high – for his first-ever 35-point, 10-assist game.
Unlike two nights ago across town at MSG, scoring wasn’t hard to come by for the Hornets in this one. Charlotte erupted for a quarterly season-high 42 points in the second frame, knocking down 7-of-11 3-point attempts to take a 73-71 halftime lead (also a season-high for first-half points). All the way through the second half, it was tightly contested affair that featured neither side leading by more than five points over the entire 24-minute span.
Rozier’s pull-up 3-pointer broke a 120-120 tie with 2:38 left on the clock. Charlotte would then score on its next three possessions – a Gordon Hayward fadeaway, two Rozier free throws and then another Rozier step-back jumper– to keep its three-point lead alive. After Nic Claxton dropped in a put-back layup, Rozier narrowly missed a retaliatory step-back with eight seconds to go, leading to a transition chance for the hosts. Fortunately, Cam Johnson’s wide-open, likely-game-winning 3-pointer clanged off the rim into Mark Williams’ hands as the horn sounded.
“Just effort, intensity,” said Rozier, when asked afterwards about what keyed the victory. “Coach said this morning that even with all our guys out, if we make the effort winning plays, that we’d win this game. It’s something we have to stick by with all these guys being hurt. We just tried to pick up the slack as much as we could. I am a point guard, so I just tried to be comfortable with the guys and do what I can for us to win.”
Miles Bridges (23) and Gordon Hayward (22) both tallied 20-point showings, and Williams (12 points and 12 rebounds) double-doubled for the fourth time in five games. Bryce McGowens got the start for Miller, finishing with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and career-high four 3-pointers. Rookie Nick Smith Jr. (nine points) also had a new career high for the second consecutive game.
Charlotte notched new season highs for 3-point field goals (21) and 3-point percentage (58.3%), sank all 16 free-throw attempts and committed only nine turnovers, six of which came in the first quarter. That long distance clip is now the highest single-game mark in franchise history on at least 35 attempts (previous: 57.5% vs. Minnesota on Nov. 26, 2021, per Stathead). The Hornets needed every one of those makes, too, with Brooklyn wrangling 22 offensive rebounds – the most by a Charlotte opponent this season by seven – for 31 second-chance points.
“This was not a recipe for how we’re going to win NBA games,” added Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford. “The number one thing is did you win or lose? We’re not going to make 21 threes every night. We were minus-11 on the glass and if you give up that many fast-break points (20), you’re not going to win many games. It’s a great win. The most important thing was we fought hard and made the plays at the end of the game.”
Cam Thomas returned from a nine-game absence to lead the Nets with 26 points off the bench, while Mikal Bridges (22) and Claxton (20) also crossed the 20-point threshold. Claxton then added 14 rebounds – a career-high nine offensive – for this third double-double of the year. With the loss, Brooklyn saw its three-game winning streak and five-game winning streak against Charlotte both come to an end.
The Hornets will now return home to battle the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, Dec. 2 beginning at 5 PM ET at Spectrum Center. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.
Hornets vs Nets Gallery ‑ 11/30/23
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