It had been 17 long days since the Hornets last played at the Spectrum Center. Charlotte has been a much better team at home versus on the road and it showed last night in a payback game vs the Houston Rockets. Charlotte previously lost to the Rockets in overtime in Houston, but the Hornets led early and led often in a dominant 123-99 win versus an inferior opponent. It was the type of game the Hornets needed with two of their key players (Miles Bridges and PJ Washington) out due to covid health and safety protocols. The NBA just changed their health and safety guidelines, shortening the isolation periods for players who test positive down to six days from what has been the customary 10 —provided those players are asymptomatic and meet other testing standards, so it is likely that Miles and PJ could return this week against the Suns on Sunday. Here are some observations from the Hornets win over the Rockets.
3’s A Plenty:
Charlotte shot 18-41 from three-point land, as they returned to the comfortable confines of the Spectrum Center. Terry Rozier led the way with seven bombs, LaMelo made four, and McDaniels and Hayward both hit two. Charlotte shot 53% from the floor for the game and were able to get almost any shot that they wanted.
A Better Defensive Effort:
As I’ve mentioned often, Charlotte is at the bottom in the NBA in defensive rating and points allowed per game. Holding the Rockets under 100 points is a step in the right direction. Yes, Houston is a team heading to the lottery, but the Rockets put up 146 points the last time these two teams met. The Rockets didn’t have one quarter where they scored over 30 points. It’s a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction nonetheless.
Plumlee Brings a Presence in the Paint:
Mason Plumlee played arguably his best game of the season scoring 15 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots in 29 minutes. Plumlee did a good job of running the floor, beating the Rockets’ big man down the court and getting easy dunks off dimes from LaMelo and other players. The center position has been like a lump of coal for the Hornets this season, but tonight Plumlee played a very solid game and Nick Richards was also solid in his 16 minutes.
Hornets’ Backcourt Sets the Tone:
LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier controlled the game and led the Hornets to a blowout win. Terry Rozier had 27 points and five assists and LaMelo Ball pitched in 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Both guards would only have one turnover a piece. These two will need to continue their strong play, especially Sunday when they play Chris Paul, Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns who have the 2nd best record in the NBA.
Charlotte will travel to Indiana on Wednesday to face the Pacers for the third time this season. Then they return to the Spectrum Center on Sunday for a showdown with the Suns.