Hornets defeat Pelicans 106-103 for 5th straight victory
Published 11:55 pm Monday, March 21, 2022
By Steve Reed
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE — LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier each scored 17 points and the Charlotte Hornets came back to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 106-103 on Monday night for their fifth straight win.
Miles Bridges added 15 points and Mason Plumlee chipped in with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte, which trailed most of the second half and overcame 17 turnovers.
“We had a bad February and we were dropping out of the playoffs, so we just wanted to show the NBA that we’re here,” Bridges said. “We are going to continue to play like this and put the NBA on notice.”
CJ McCollum scored 27 points for New Orleans and Jonas Valanciunas was dominant in the paint most of the night, finishing with 24 points and 18 rebounds. The Pelicans had their two-game win streak snapped.
“Resiliency, toughness — we never gave in and we found a way,” Hornets coach James Borrego said.
After Ball put the Hornets up three with a floater in the lane with 8.9 seconds left, the Pelicans tried to give McCollum a chance to tie it on the last possession.
But the Hornets swarmed the Pelicans guard after he received the side inbounds pass and he was never able to get up a shot. The ball was knocked away and Devonte Graham grabbed it and tried a desperation heave that would not have counted had it fallen.
“We know if he had a 1-on-1, he was going to hit,” Bridges said of McCollum. “We wanted anyone else besides him shooting that ball.”
McCollum said after the game he probably should have used a pump fake to help free himself up.
“It wasn’t great spacing and I have to make a quicker decision,” he said.
The Pelicans took an 84-76 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Hornets rallied to take the lead when Bridges knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:12 left and P.J. Washington found Plumlee cutting down the lane for a big dunk a short while later.
The Hornets outscored the Pelicans 21-10 in the final nine minutes.
“The execution down the stretch is extremely important,” said Pelicans coach Willie Green. “It’s something we’ve been talking about and we just fell a little short with this one down the stretch. It was right there for the taking. Give Charlotte credit, they made plays down the stretch that ultimately won the game for them.”
Charlotte continues to share the ball of late, averaging 34 assists during its five-game winning streak while recording at least 30 assists in every game.
The 7-foot Plumlee said he decided to switch to shooting free throws with his left hand after injuring a finger on his right hand last week.
“It’s not like I had anything to lose based on how I was shooting,” said Plumlee, who is making just 37.2% from the foul line. “It didn’t feel like it was something that was uncomfortable. It’s a good ball so I’m going to stick with it.”
Plumlee was 3 of 4 from the line against the Pelicans.
Pelicans: Herbert Jones was ejected in the third quarter for a flagrant 2 foul when he elbowed Bridges in the head. Jones finished with five points. … Brandon Ingram did not play due to right hamstring soreness. … Naji Marshall had 14 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes.
Hornets: Had nine blocked shots. … Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and his wife, Nicole, sat courtside.
Pelicans: Host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.
Hornets: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.