Gordon Hayward, the Hornets’ the 120-Million-dollar man, showed his value in the most important way Sunday night against arguably the hottest team in the association. The Brooklyn Nets, who have blown out both the Warriors and Celtics in their first two contests, came into Charlotte averaging 124 points a game. Sunday night, Charlotte defeated the Nets 106-104.
Rebounding the ball, especially after potentially losing Cody Zeller for month due to a fractured hand, perimeter defense and stopping penetration into the lane were all questions that surrounded the Hornets over the last two losses. So, how did they defeat the eastern conference favorites?
How They Did It
Defense was key in the upset Sunday night. The Nets shot just 42% from the field, including 36% from 3. Winning the boards battle, 52-46, was the icing on the cake.
PJ Washington constantly attacked the basket and played with a sense of urgency all night long – not shying away from the paint. Washington, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, showed tremendous poise and was a force offensively on the interior – something the Hornets have lacked since the departure of Al Jefferson.
Gordon Hayward, who played like he’s being paid $30 million dollars a year, provided the much needed scoring the Hornets have lacked from the midrange game. In crunch time, who can get Charlotte a bucket? Hayward answered that question last night. Being paid like a superstar, you don’t shy away from those moments on primetime. Jordan brought you in for moments like these.
Hayward, who scored 28 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, gave the Hornets the shooter’s stroke which they have lacked for years. Brooklyn cut the lead to 2 several times in the fourth and Hayward answered the bell when needed – finding the open man on the perimeter and attacking the lane for the easy deuce. Worth noting, Hayward allowed the game to come to him, not forcing the issue. His leadership on the court was difference in the 106-104 victory.
Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier’s play can’t be swept under the rug. Going against the Nets’ top-notch backcourt and home, you’d better show up. Graham and Rozier did just that scoring a combined 32 points, 8 assists, 12 rebounds to just 2 turnovers.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, up 64-60, Lamelo Ball threw an outlet pass to Terry Rozier for a tomahawk dunk over Kevin Durant sending the Hornets bench into a frenzy. Yes, Rozier caught a body in the 704-last night.