NEW ORLEANS — Gordon Hayward scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half and the Charlotte Hornets methodically came back from an 18-point, second-quarter deficit to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-110 on Friday night.
“He’s a pro. He’s been here before. He’s not fazed by a bad half, a bad quarter,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “He gives us a calming force, a presence that we may not have had in the past.”
The game marked the first time brothers Lonzo and LaMelo Ball – both top-three draft choices within the past four years – played against one another. LaMelo Ball, picked third overall in 2020, had the better night, nearly notching a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“He was free and easy out there, kind of what we expect now,” Borrego said. “He’s not fazed by the moment.”
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) January 9, 2021
Although the Ball brothers were matched up only intermittently, LaMelo Ball hit a 3 with his brother guarding him and also blocked his brother’s driving layup.
Lonzo Ball, a second overall draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, missed 6 of 7 3-point shots and finished with five points.
“It was cool to be out there with him,” LaMelo Ball said. “Whenever we win, I feel it works out great.”
Miles Bridges scored 20 points and Devonte Graham had 17 for the Hornets, who didn’t take their first lead until the fourth quarter, when they outscored New Orleans 36-23.
“There is some frustration because I just want to win,” Williamson said of the recent skid, characterized by untimely defensive lapses. “We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable for those types of losses, whether it’s the turnovers, whether it’s the lack of rotation, communication.”
The Pelicans led by double digits most of the first half and by 18 points when Redick’s 3 made it 47-29 in the middle of the second quarter.
New Orleans was still up 59-47 to open the second half, but Charlotte quickly began tightening things up.
Rozier hit a 3 and Hayward added short jumper and another 3, cutting the lead to 62-55.
Another 3 by Hayward, two more by Rozier and one by Bridges in a span of less than three minutes got the Hornets within 72-69.
The Pelicans gradually rebuilt their lead to eight late in the period, but LaMelo Ball hit his step-back 3 over his brother to make it 87-82 heading into the final quarter.
Graham’s driving right-handed floater as he was fouled by Nickeil Alexander-Walker put Charlotte up for the first time at 105-103 with 5:46 to go. Hayward’s 3 with 3:43 left put the Hornets ahead 109-105.
“I’ll keep using the word resiliency,” Borrego said. “It speaks volumes about their character more than anything. I love that they don’t give in.”