Bouknight Goes for Season-High 22 PTS, Washington Exits Early with Sprained Foot
A season-high-tying 22 turnovers combined with another key injury was too much for the Charlotte Hornets to work through in a homestand-opening 121-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
James Bouknight was a significant bright spot for the hosts in the defeat, putting up a season-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, six rebounds and four assists. This was the second 20-point game of Bouknight’s career, and his six 3-pointers on 11 attempts also matched his highest single-game total as an NBA player.
Charlotte trailed right from the start, falling behind 15-3 thanks to a flurry of early turnovers. The deficit got down to six towards the end of the second quarter, before Chicago rolled off a 14-4 run to enter halftime leading, 62-46. Still ahead by 13 going into the fourth, the Bulls opened the final frame with a 25-7 charge to put the game away for good, as Charlotte ended the night with a season-high-tying 22 turnovers.
“The turnovers are a product of their defense, which they’re really good at – they’re fifth in defense,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford. “They’re like eighth in points off turnovers, so it was a big emphasis this morning. They got up, got into the ball, and we didn’t respond the way we needed to, and we never did the whole game. Really what we did to stay in it, we shot the three well. They were a step ahead of us on both ends of the floor right from the jump. I thought Svi [Mykhailiuk] was good creating with his decision-making and Bouk’s shot-making, he had some plays off the dribble. Those two guys basically kept us in the game.”
Added Bouknight, “It feels good to be back out there, being able to play. Honestly, I think it’s just getting more minutes as the games go on. I think it’s been helping me and my confidence. It’s just having an opportunity to go out there knowing that you’re going to play. Just try to contribute and do whatever you can to help the team win.”
Mykhailiuk had 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting and five assists, marking his third 15-point game in five appearances. JT Thor (10 points) was the only other Hornet player to score in double figures and sank multiple 3-pointers (2-of-6) for the fourth time in five outings. While all the turnovers resulting in 29 Chicago points was certainly glaring, Charlotte shot efficiently, going 45.5% from the field and 14-of-37 from behind the arc (37.8%).
On the injury front, PJ Washington – who had a career-high 43 points in Oklahoma City three nights ago – departed the game in the second quarter with a right foot sprain and did not return. Recent signees Xavier Sneed and Kobi Simmons also both made their team debuts.
DeMar DeRozan (23), Zach LaVine (23) and Nikola Vučević (21) all had 20-point showings to help Chicago knock off the Hornets for the third time in four meetings this season. As a team, the Bulls shot 51.1% and 41.9% from 3-point range (13-of-31), while committing only seven giveaways leading to 10 Charlotte points.
Up next for the Hornets will be the first of two consecutive home games against the Toronto Raptors starting on Sunday, April 2 at 1 PM ET. Follow all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.