Poor shooting, Washington’s timely rebound sends Charlotte to 11th Lost in 12 games
It sounds pretty self-explanatory, but a major reason (aside from injuries) for the Charlotte Hornets’ early struggles this year was their inability to simply play basketball consistently. Sunday night in Washington, all it took was a poor two-minute stretch early in the fourth quarter to set the stage for a 106-102 away loss to the Wizards.
Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Hornets in the second straight game with 23 total points — 10 of them in the third quarter — on 10-of-20 shots overall and seven rebounds in the loss. Gordon Hayward also had 20 points despite going briefly to the dressing room in the fourth quarter after sustaining a left shoulder injury that cost him eight games earlier this month.
Charlotte led 53-48 with 2:35 in the second quarter before Washington went into the break with a 12-2 sprint. The Hornets held the Wizards on 18 points in the third quarter and led 79-77 early in the fourth quarter, but the hosts again took control with an 11-2 run to open the frame – which included a pair of second. Chance 3-pointer – to go up by seven. From then on, Washington was never behind again and eventually finished the game with free throws at the end.
“I think the first three minutes of the fourth quarter was the game,” Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said afterwards. “[Washington] plays without Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porziņģis on the floor and they went up [seven] instantly. That was the biggest part of the game. We have to start playing harder and be more physical. It can’t just be when we’re feeling good. We need to recover and have a block-out attitude. It cost us the game in Cleveland. We’re starting to play harder and with some physicality we’ll start winning.”
Oubre added: “They came out and hit first. We were kind of stunned and couldn’t react fast enough. They had the momentum pretty much throughout the fourth quarter.”
The Hornets actually won the entire rebound fight by two (51-49), but the boards they didn’t get seemed the more impactful. Washington had seven offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter — twice what he had in the first three quarters — resulting in 12 second chance points. Charlotte’s offense didn’t offer much room for error – the team again shot under 40% (39%; 39/100) and went just 8/32 from 3-point range (25%).
Individually, Nick Richards (11 points and 10 rebounds) hit his second straight double-double, marking the first time he’s done so at the NBA level. PJ Washington was also in double digits with 13 points, and Dennis Smith Jr. had six points, three assists, two steals, two blocks and a team-best +15 plus-minus rating in his first outing after four games.
Kyle Kuzma (28 points) and Beal (26 points) both had great performances for the Wizards, who won for the sixth time in seven games. Fellow starter Deni Avdija added 12 points in 6-of-11 shooting, one game and 13 rebounds that were high on the season.
The Hornets will get two much-needed days off before hosting the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, November 23 at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Spectrum Center. Catch all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ FM 92.7