Turnovers Hurt Hornets Again In Rematch With Cavaliers

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Not only were the turnovers not cleaned up by the Charlotte Hornets in their second meeting in three days with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, but their issues in this area were actually a bit worse in a 120-104 home loss.

Kelly Oubre Jr. returned from a one-game absence to lead the Hornets with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting and six rebounds in the loss, marking his fifth 25-point performance in seven appearances. Behind him in the scoring department was Terry Rozier, who had 22 points and a game-high nine assists to narrowly miss his second double-double of the season.

Cleveland closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run, then scored 14 points on Charlotte’s nine second-quarter turnovers to take a 63-48 lead into half. While the Hornets’ giveaways slowed down a little in the third, the Cavaliers shot 67% and 5-of-6 from 3-point range in the frame to roll into the fourth with an insurmountable 22-point advantage.

Charlotte’s final turnover tally was 22, matching a season high first set in Toronto back on Jan. 22. The 35 points that Cleveland scored off those giveaways were the most by a Hornets’ opponent this season, besting the previous mark of 30 set by Miami in overtime on Nov. 10.

“The biggest difference the other night (Sunday) was the turnovers and the free throws,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford following the loss. “We did a better job tonight with not fouling, but there’s a reason why they’re the best defensive team in the NBA – they create a lot of turnovers, they’re physical, they have size. When you get behind, it’s hard to come back. We had 10 more [turnovers] in the second half – you’re just not going to win.”

He added, “I thought our best player tonight, by far, not even close, was Terry. He was the one who I talked to them about in the locker room. Tonight, we didn’t play overall with the kind of resiliency we’ve played with most of the year. Even in the second half, we had a couple chances, but we didn’t come back and play with that same fight and energy.”

JT Thor tied a career high with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench. Charlotte did shoot the ball well, knocking down 56.6% of its attempts – only 6-of-23 from 3-point range, though – and dished out 29 assists on 43 field goals. Said Oubre, “We’re figuring out our flow on the offensive end, and that’s moving the ball and playing with pace. Keep doing that, limit the turnovers, and I feel like we’ll be alright.”

Second-year big man Evan Mobley had 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and six rebounds to lead the Cavaliers to their fifth victory in six meetings with the Hornets. Reserve Cedi Osman added 24 points on 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, while Caris LeVert (22) chipped in another 20-point showing for the victors.

The Hornets will now have two full days off before hosting the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, March 17 starting at 7 PM ET. Catch all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ FM 92.7.