Fourth-Quarter Defense Costs Hornets Road Win In Indiana

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Plumlee Double-Doubles Again, Charlotte Starts Strong, But Can’t Keep Momentum Going

The Charlotte Hornets opened their four-game road trip with a season-best offensive explosion two nights ago in Milwaukee. When they returned to the court on Sunday evening, the offense was still in good shape, but the defense unfortunately was not, leading to a last-minute 116-111 loss to the hometown Indiana Pacers.

PJ Washington led the visitors with a team-high 22 points – 10 in the fourth quarter – five rebounds, three assists and two steals in the defeat. Fellow frontcourter Mason Plumlee had another productive night, tallying 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, a game-high 13 rebounds and two assists for his fourth double-double in five outings and 15th overall this season.

Both teams each had a sizeable first-half run, resulting in a narrow 47-45 Indiana edge at halftime. The runs continued through the second half deep into the fourth quarter, when a PJ Washington 3-pointer put Charlotte ahead 107-104 with 1:22 to go. Myles Turner immediately tied the game with an old-fashioned 3-point play and then after two straight Hornets turnovers, Indiana began a stretch in which it drained 9-of-10 free throws to finish off the win.

“We couldn’t stop them. They scored 43 [in the fourth quarter],” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford following the loss. “Our offense was more than good enough to win. We scored 32 on the road in the fourth quarter – you have to win that game. They had possessions where they got two or three offensive rebounds and we had a couple really bad fouls. We put ourselves in a good place for three quarters where we really played well. Just our defense in the fourth wasn’t good enough.”

Added Plumlee, “[Giving up] 43 in the fourth is too much, especially when you need your defense to be at its best. I thought we started the game really well. I thought there was some carryover from Milwaukee, but they got their offense going in the second and the fourth. It didn’t result in the win, but I think we’re playing better. We’re giving ourselves a chance.”

Terry Rozier (19), Jalen McDaniels (17) and LaMelo Ball (13 and eight assists) also scored in double figures for Charlotte. Ball, who saw his 14-game 20-point streak come to an end, played only 25 minutes because of foul trouble. His sixth infraction was a pivotal offensive one, where he kicked out his leg out on defender Buddy Hield in the midst of a blocked 3-point attempt with the game tied in the final minute.

Turner (29) and Hield (21) both had 20-point games for the Pacers, who won their sixth in a row at home. Tyrese Haliburton racked up 16 points on 4-of-10 shooting to go along with a game-high 13 assists and just one turnover. Indiana scored only 15 points in the first quarter – the fewest by a Charlotte opponent this season in any quarter – but had 101 over the final three frames on 48% shooting.

The Hornets will now play the first of two consecutive road games against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, Jan. 10 beginning at 7:30 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.

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