A troublesome second quarter for the second consecutive game placed the Charlotte Hornets in another tough position, leading to a 100-86 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Jan. 15, as well as a winless four-game road trip.
Terry Rozier narrowly missed his second double-double of the season, finishing with team highs in scoring (20 points on 7-of-14 shooting; 6-of-9 from three), nine assists and zero turnovers. This is the Charlotte guard’s seventh 20-point game in eight outings and also marks the most assists he’s ever had in an NBA game without committing a single giveaway.
Leading by three after the opening frame, Denver outscored Charlotte, 29-17, in the second quarter to enter halftime with a 57-42 advantage. The Nuggets shot 47.8% from the field in the frame, but held the Hornets to a lowly 29.2% clip (7-of-24) thanks to some fantastic physical defense. The visitors cut the deficit down to five by the start of the fourth before Denver went on a 19-3 run to put things way out of reach.
“The group that finished the third quarter was fantastic,” said Coach Borrego afterwards. “They played with urgency, moved the ball. Fourth quarter, that group that started, not enough urgency. Just didn’t have enough pride to go get a loose ball, a 50-50 ball. You’re just not going to win in this league with that type of effort.”
PJ Washington, Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham all tallied 14 points for the Hornets, with Bridges also pulling down a game-high-tying eight rebounds. Cody Zeller scored in double figures as well (11 points) and Nicolas Batum had seven rebounds and a season-high-tying seven assists off the bench.
Borrego added with regards to the 0-4 road trip, “We stuck with it for the most part. We battled against some very good teams on the road. I liked our effort overall and I thought we got better on this road trip. We just couldn’t bring home a win here down the stretch. We have a couple days off and we have to get better.”
Rookie reserve Michael Porter Jr. scored a team-high 19 points for Denver, 17 of which came in the opening half. Mason Plumlee (15), Jerami Grant (14), Will Barton, Nikola Jokić (12), and PJ Dozier (12) all scored at least 10 points for a deep Nuggets squad, which lost starting point guard Jamal Murray (five points) to a left ankle injury in the second quarter.
Denver’s bench outscored its Charlotte counterpart by a whopping 52-13 margin and as a team overall, held the Hornets to just 40.7% shooting (34.3% from three; 12-of-35) on the night. The Hornets notched assists on 28 of 33 made field goals, good for their highest single-game assist percentage (84.8%) since Feb. 11, 2014 vs. Dallas (franchise-record 93.3%; 42-of-45).
A full four days off await the Hornets before they return to the court on Monday, Jan. 20 to face the Orlando Magic starting at 5 PM EST. Catch the game on Fox Sports Southeast or listen in on WFNZ 610 AM/102.5 FM or the Hornets app.