(Written by David W. Walters)
The Charlotte Hornets used some scrappy second half play to come away with a 96-86 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night in Washington, D.C. This was a tale of two teams, as they looked like mirror images of each other from one half to the next.
The game got off to a sloppy start with bad shooting and turnovers plaguing both teams, but the Wizards eventually woke up, getting out to a 27-18 lead after the first quarter. Charlotte kept up in the second quarter but was unable to chip away at the lead as the Hornets went into the locker room with a 41-50 deficit, due mostly to poor defense, more awful shooting and the Wizards bench coming up big in the first half.
Charlotte was hot coming out of the locker room as they outscored the Wizards, 25-18, to close the game to 66-68 after three quarters. The Hornets were on fire to end the third quarter, and they carried the momentum into in the fourth quarter, as they used a pair of free throws and threes from P.J. Hairston and Jannero Pargo to jump out to the lead in the fourth quarter. The Hornets outscored the Wizards 23-1 throughout a five-minute span, which included some big shots from the Hornets reserves. They eventually cooled off as they slowed to tempo to grind out the win but the damage had already been done.
Al Jefferson led the way for the Hornets on Friday night, scoring a team high 20 points to go with eight rebounds. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had his best game of the preseason so far as he stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, a team high 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Hairston and Pargo were key in the final period for Charlotte, and they finished with 11 and 12 points respectively as they shot a combined 5-7 from beyond the arc.
Kemba Walker, who was a game time decision, started the game and had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and starting forward Marvin Williams played well with eight points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Point guard John Wall led the Wizards in scoring with 14 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Nene Hilario was a force down low for Washington, getting 10 points and three blocks in the first half alone.
The Wizards spread the scoring around and got strong play out of their bench players, with Rasual Butler chipping in nine points and veteran Andre Miller contributing eight points and five assists. Second year forward Otto Porter, who’s had an impressive exhibition season, had eight points and three steals. Paul Pierce scored 11 points but left the game just before halftime after bumping knees with Walker.
Gerald Henderson sat out the game with a hamstring injury, Lance Stephenson was out with a groin issue and Noah Vonleh was still recovering from a sports hernia. Bradley Beal missed the game for Washington.
The Hornets are back in action on Sunday night when they travel to Chicago to face Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, and low and behold, the game will be televised on NBATV.
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.