In a thrilling comeback, the Charlotte Hornets fought from being down 23 points to beat the Pacers 123-122 in their home opener. The Hornets went on a 24-0 run in the 3rd quarter, ignited by LaMelo Ball who scored 12 of his 31 points in the that period and finished with nine rebounds and seven assists. Gordon Hayward would chip in with 27 points, including some timely baskets in the 4th quarter, while the Hornets got solid contributions from Miles Bridges and Ish Smith.
Early in the game the Hornets couldn’t stop the Pacers in the paint or from the 3-point line. Domantas Sabonis was dominate, scoring 33 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. When Sabonis wasn’t punishing the Hornets inside, he was cooking the Hornets from outside along with rookie Chris Duarte and Malcolm Brogdon. The combo would combine for 13 three pointers. For a rookie, Chris Duarte was very impressive in his first NBA game.
The Spectrum Center crowd didn’t have much to cheer about in the first half, but once the momentum shifted The Hive was jumping and the players fed off the energy of the crowd. Michael Jordan, LaVar Ball, Jeremy Chinn and Da Baby we’re all in attendance to watch the game and LaMelo Ball didn’t disappoint. Ball is the type of star personality, on and off the court, that the city of Charlotte has been searching for since losing Kemba Walker in 2019 and Cam Newton in early 2020. At 20 years old this city belongs to LaMelo Ball, and it will be his for the foreseeable future.
- Defending dominant big-men will be a problem all season for the Hornets.
- To the surprise of many, James Bouknight didn’t enter the game on opening night.
- Terry Rozier was a late scratch as he’s been dealing with an ankle injury. The Hornets will take all the precautions needed, not wanting Rozier’s ankle injury to linger.
- The Hornets will have to improve their pick-n-roll defense and defensive rotations. At times, the Pacers were seeking Plumlee out in the pick-n-roll and making the Hornets pay. There were moments throughout the game, especially early on, where the Hornets were giving up straight line drives to the basket with no help defense and when the help defense did come the Pacers were able to move the ball and find open threes. This will be something the Hornets will need to clean up when they return to practice.
- For a lot of players this was their first time playing in front of a packed Spectrum Center, and for a lot of fans it was the first time seeing this core group of the Hornets live due to Covid restrictions. Hopefully, the Hornets can achieve their goal of making the postseason, because that 2nd half environment was about as crazy as I’ve been in for a Hornets game in a long time. If this Hornets group can make the postseason, the fans deserve it.