Installment #18: No Melo, but the Bugs Win Anyway
Today as a Charlotte Hornets fan is better than yesterday. Just a little bit. Today, I am elated to announce that the Charlotte Hornets edged the San Antonio Spurs 100-97 last night, finally getting a win out west on this current road trip. The win stopped a 3-game losing streak. It took a bit of the sour taste out of Hornets fans' mouths after the news that LaMelo Ball has a fracture in his right wrist and is expected to miss the rest of the season, and for now, the win gives Bugs fans something to be excited, maybe hopeful about.
There was indeed no LaMelo Ball, but Gordon Hayward was there. He scored 27 points and was instrumental in helping Charlotte build a 12-point lead in the first half. Terry Rozier was still there and he scored 24 points, including a step-back 27-footer that gave the Hornets a 96-93 advantage late. It was a lead they would not relinquish. Bismack Biyombo and Malik Monk each scored 11 points and P.J. Washington added 10 points and 13 rebounds in a well-balanced, all-around team attack. "This was not a finesse win," Charlotte coach James Borego said after the game. "We had to gut this one out with physicality and toughness." And gut it out they did with multiple players scoring in double figures and one of the team's best defensive efforts of the season.
It was truly a great thing to see, other guys stepping up in the absence of the Charlotte Hornets talented and energetic No. 3 draft pick. Gordon Hayward has been consistent all season and Terry Rozier was clutch last night as he usually is. The Hornets will need more from guys like Malik Monk, Devontae Graham, and others if they still hope to be competitive. I don't know about a deep playoff run, but maybe they can still make the play-in round. After that, we'll see.
Tomorrow night, the Charlotte Hornets continue their current tour of the western conference as they are in Houston to take on the Rockets. The Rockets are coming off a win against the Toronto Raptors but before that, they had lost 20 games in a row. Can the Hornets take advantage of a team that has truly struggled this season?