There was some concern that the Hornets would be a little fatigued coming off that long, six-game road trip with just one day off to recover. If they were, you wouldn’t know it. They had a good bounce to their step right out of the gates opening the game on a 7-0 run. LaMelo Ball went perfect from the field in the first quarter (4/4 FG, 2/2 3FG) leading Charlotte with 10 points.
Steve Clifford received some quality minutes from his bigs with Mason Plumlee registering eight points in the first while the rookie, Mark Williams, nearly posted a double-double in his first 13 minutes of floor time with nine points and eight rebounds. He ended the night with 17 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs. Because of their production, the Hornets dominated the paint, notching 28 points inside in the first quarter, going a perfect 14/14 on two-point field goals.
Williams also created problems for Oklahoma City on the other end of the floor picking up a couple of blocks and closing out on open shooters on the perimeter.
The Hornets led most of the first half, but OKC climbed back into it quickly with an 8-1 run midway through the second. A few minutes later, Mike Muscala broke a 57-57 tie with a three-ball in the corner at the buzzer to give the Thunder a slim three-point advantage at the half.
Neither team could string anything together to get a comfortable lead and hold onto it. The two teams traded buckets and misses for the majority of the second half.
A scary moment occurred for the Hornets in the fourth quarter when P.J. Washington hobbled off the court with a foot/ankle injury. Luckily for him and the Hornets, it wasn’t anything serious and he was able to stay in the game. He played a big role in Charlotte’s offense, knocking down a pair of threes and slamming home a dunk to go up 108-103, forcing Oklahoma City to burn a timeout.
LaMelo Ball played the role of Mariano Rivera in this one by hitting a three and coming up with a steal leading to a fastbreak bucket for Terry Rozier to put the game away.
The Hornets will hit the practice court tomorrow and then return to game action Saturday night when they host the red-hot Brooklyn Nets – a team that’s winners of ten straight.