Rozier has 29, leads Hornets past Cavaliers
Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2022
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND — Terry Rozier scored 29 points and carried Charlotte’s backcourt with LaMelo Ball in foul trouble, leading the Hornets to a 119-98 win on Wednesday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who got back All-Star Darius Garland but lost for the fifth time in six games.
Rozier added seven assists and seven rebounds, while Isaiah Thomas scored 10 points in his debut for Charlotte. The Hornets made 17 3-pointers and improved to just 3-11 since Jan. 28.
The Cavaliers, who have been ravaged by injuries to their backcourt, welcomed back Garland after he missed three games with a bone bruise in his back. Garland finished with 33 points in 33 minutes.
However, Garland couldn’t help the Cavs from falling behind by 24 points in the third quarter — a recent trend — or slowing the Hornets, who came in as the NBA’s top scoring team (114.1 points per game).
Cleveland also lost coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who was slapped with two technical fouls and ejected by referee Natalie Sago in the third quarter. Bickerstaff was upset with several non-calls and made his case known before getting run.
Cavs center Jarrett Allen had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Ball, who averages 19.9 points, played just eight minutes and missed all three shots. But Rozier more than made up for his absence and Thomas provided a spark after being signed to a 10-day contract earlier in the day.
The Cavs were still within 12 in the fourth when Miles Bridges and Rozier buried 3-pointers to bury Cleveland. Bridges added 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Garland initially got hurt on Jan. 9 and will have to deal with the injury for the rest of this season.
Bickerstaff said Garland has to watch his back — literally.
“In his position, you spend a lot of time with your back to people when you’re on the defensive end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “The game is a lot of pick-and-roll, and that’s the angle that a lot of those screens get set on, so you’re just cautious and aware of all of it to be honest with you.”
Hornets: F Gordon Hayward (left ankle sprain), who is averaging 16.1 points, missed his ninth straight game. … F Jalen McDaniels (left ankle sprain) last played on Jan. 21 and G James Bouknight (neck soreness) missed his second game in a row. … Charlotte has a winning road record against all three divisions in the East.
Cavaliers: G Rajon Rondo (sprained toe) missed his third straight game and G Caris LeVert (sprained foot) sat out his fourth in a row. … Cleveland was just 2 of 13 on 3-pointers in the first half and finished 10 of 31. … Recently signed G Tim Frazier has now played for nine NBA franchises, three shy of the league record shared by five players.
Thin in the backcourt, the Hornets signed Thomas, who had 10-day deals earlier this season with the Lakers and Mavericks. The 33-year-old caught Charlotte’s eye with a 46-point game recently against their G League team.
Hornets coach James Borrego is thrilled to have Thomas aboard, especially to mentor Ball and the team’s other young guards.
“Leadership, poise, confidence. He provides all of that,” Borrego said.
Hornets: Host San Antonio on Saturday.
Cavaliers: Visit Philadelphia on Friday, beginning a stretch of four road games in eight days.