The Charlotte Hornets kept the fans on their feet all the way until the final buzzer sounded in their regular season home finale on Friday night, which ended with a narrow 112-109 loss to the visiting Houston Rockets.
Svi Mykhailiuk had a team-high 25 points, five rebounds and five assists for his third career 25-point game, two of which have now come in his last three appearances. Right beside him in the statsheet was fellow European Théo Maledon, who tallied season highs for points (22 on 8-of-15 shooting), 3-pointers made (four) and steals (five) to go along with eight assists in the loss.
Nine first-quarter turnovers and 12 second-chance points surrendered in the second helped put the Hornets in 55-49 hole by the mid-way break. Houston eventually got the lead to 14 early in the fourth quarter, but Charlotte came storming back in the final frame to make it a three-point affair with 4:37 remaining. After both sides exchanged 8-2 runs, the Hornets had two chances at a game-tying 3-point attempt sandwich around a pair of missed Kenyon Martin Jr. free throws, although neither one managed to drop in the closing seconds.
“The turnovers, and then obviously we couldn’t guard their pick-and-rolls there,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford, when asked about the deciding factors in the game. “The last three-and-a-half minutes of the game, they ran the same play every time. We had a coverage, and we never got to the coverage. Some of it is tough matchups, but you’ve got to be able to execute there, and we didn’t. Our attitude is good. Obviously, the turnovers are overriding this group. It’s just hard to win – we had [nine] turnovers in the first quarter. That makes it hard.”
Added Mark Williams, “I think the last three minutes they obviously went to [Kevin] Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. I think we let it get downhill too much. They got some layups at the rim, obviously. They got some second-chance opportunities. But yeah, we gave ourselves a fighting chance. We’ve just got to execute better.”
The turnover count for the Hornets finished at 17 leading to 28 Houston points, although they forced 19 takeaways on the defensive end for 21 points of their own. Bryce McGowens added 16 points in the scoring column, while Williams had 12 points and 13 rebounds for his second straight double-double and third in four outings.
Green and Porter both had 26 points for Houston, which snapped a three-game losing streak at Spectrum Center with the victory. Martin and Alperen Şengün each tallied 14 points, with the later corralling a career-high 21 rebounds for his 28th double-double of the campaign. As a team, Houston won the rebounding battle by seven (48-41), had 20 more paint points (64-44) and recorded 21 second-chance points on 8-of-12 shooting.
The Hornets will wrap up their 2022-23 regular season schedule on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, April 9 beginning at 1 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.