Bridges, Rozier help Hornets shoot past Pelicans, 142-120
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Miles Bridges had 27 points and nine assists, Terry Rozier highlighted his 27-point performance with seven 3-pointers and the Charlotte Hornets put on a shooting exhibition to beat the undermanned New Orleans Pelicans 142-120 on Friday night.
LaMelo Ball had 17 points, nine assists and three steals for Charlotte, which hit 22 3s (on 47 attempts) and shot 59.8% overall (52 of 87) to snap a two-game skid while sending New Orleans to its fourth straight loss.
“I felt like everybody was locked in today. We dropped a couple games ... and we didn’t want to lose this game,” Bridges said. “Everybody was touching (the ball) today; I don’t think anybody was mad about their touches.”
The Hornets finished with 41 assists.
“We talked about it before the game; it’s no secret when we move the ball, we are at our best,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Obviously, you have to make shots, which we did tonight, but the intention was there as everyone was touching the ball. It is just infectious.
“Really proud of that stat tonight of 41 assists,” Borrego added. “That’s tough to do in a NBA game.”
Trey Murphy III, the Pelicans’ first-round pick last summer, hit seven 3s and set his game high in points with 32 to go with a personal best of nine rebounds. Murphy’s best game as a pro by far — his previous game highs included 12 points and six rebounds — was a bright spot for New Orleans in a game that was not competitive down the stretch.
“Almost like a monkey off my back because I finally it some shots, so I was happy about that,” said Murphy, noting that he likely would have been with the Pelicans’ G-League team in Birmingham, Alabama, during New Orleans’ current homestand if not for Brandon Ingram’s recent right hamstring injury.
The Pelicans entered the game missing their top two scorers because of Ingram’s injury and CJ McCollum’s placement in NBA health and safety protocols. But scoring wasn’t really the problem in this match-up.
Devonte’ Graham scored 19 points for New Orleans and Willy Hernangomez added 15 points for the Pelicans, who couldn’t stay in the game despite shooting 50% (43 of 86), including 15 of 39 (38.5%) from 3-point range.
“Tonight was an unacceptable defensive performance on our part,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said.
Charlotte led 61-55 after a more closely contested first half in which Pelicans rookie Herb Jones got the crowd engaged and brought the New Orleans bench to its feet with his baseline drive for a contested dunk over Mason Plumlee.
But the Hornets raced away from the Pelicans in the third quarter, when Ball produced a series of highlights.
“When Melo gets going, there’s nothing the other team can do,” Bridges said.
Ball’s quick-release, no-look pass a moment after he’d received the ball on a cut down the lane produced Plumlee’s uncontested dunk. On Charlotte’s next possession, Ball hit a 3 to make it 72-59. Minutes later, Ball ripped the ball away from Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas’ near mid-court and sprinted the other way for a breakaway dunk to make it 82-63.
Charlotte scored 42 points in the third quarter, during which Ball had seven points and six assists, and the Hornets took a 103-82 lead into the final period.
“We did what we were supposed to do; it was an important game for us,” said Isaiah Thomas, who scored 14 points as he neared the end of a first 10-day contract with Charlotte. “Everybody had great energy. Everybody was positive and it was just a really good win.”
Hornets: Got 59 points from reserves, including Montrezl Harrell’s 16 points, Cody Martin’s 15, and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s 10. ... Improved to 18-1 when shooting 50% or better. ... Led by 27 points in the fourth quarter.
Pelicans: Injured star forward Zion Williamson was on the bench in street clothes, attending a Pelicans game in New Orleans for the first time since leaving the club more than two months ago to rehabilitate his right foot on his own in Oregon. Williamson returned to New Orleans after being cleared for full weight-bearing activities and attended the Pelicans’ shootaround Friday morning. There remains no timeline for his return to full practice or games. ... Naji Marshall scored 14 points, Jaxson Hayes 13, Jones 12 and Valanciunas 10.
Hornets: Visit Oklahoma City on Monday night to wrap up a two-game trip.
Pelicans: Host Houston on Sunday night in the third of four straight at home.
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