November 10 – The Charlotte Hornets will begin pool play for the NBA in-season tournament Friday when they visit the Washington Wizards.
Friday’s matchup is the second in as many games between Charlotte and Washington, though the first in East Group B competition for the in-season tournament. The Wizards dropped their opener in the pool on Nov. 3 at Miami, 121-114, part of a four-game losing skid.
The Wizards pulled out of their funk on Wednesday at Charlotte, however, beating the Hornets 132-116. Kyle Kuzma scored a season-high 33 points to pace Washington to its team high in scoring so far this year.
Reserves also played significant roles in the win, with four Wizards scoring in double figures off the bench. Danilo Gallinari and Delon Wright each scored 18 points, Landry Shamet added 15, and Corey Kispert finished with 12.
All four also hit multiple 3-pointers, led by Gallinari’s 4-of-7 production from beyond the arc.
“They’ve shown spurts for us so far this young season, and to see it in significant stretches, it’s comforting,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said in his postgame press conference. “You’ve got guys who can come in and impact the game, offensively and defensively, stem the tide, hold off runs. That shows a lot of character for guys who, to this point, hadn’t got a lot of minutes. “
Gallinari logged 20 minutes on Wednesday, almost seven more than his season average so far. Wright, averaging around 18 minutes, played 26 against Charlotte, and in his third appearance of the campaign, Shamet’s 17:08 vs. the Hornets marked its season high.
Washington will seek not only consecutive wins over Charlotte in Friday’s contest, but its first winning streak of 2023-24 as well as the chance to move to .500 early in the in-season tournament.
Along with Miami’s defeat of the Wizards, Milwaukee beat New York to open the pool while Charlotte waited for its start. The Hornets tip off their in-season tournament on Friday both seeking a 1-0 start in the pool and trying to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season.
Wednesday’s loss to Washington followed a 124-118 defeat at Dallas last Sunday in the last game of a three-game road swing for Charlotte. It was also the second Charlotte loss with Terry Rozier out of the lineup.
Rozier, the team’s leading scorer at 22 points per game, sustained a major injury last Saturday that could sideline him the next two weeks.
LaMelo Ball scored his season highs of 30 and 34 points with Rozier sidelined, and recorded a triple-double with 13 assists and 10 rebounds vs. Dallas.
The Hornets come into Friday’s visit to the nation’s capital having surrendered at least 124 points in each of their last five games, and their season-long yield of 123.1 points per game is the third-highest defensive allowance in the NBA through games played Wednesday.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford attributed defensive woes in part to the Hornets’ difficulty matching up when opponents use smaller lineups — which Washington did with Gallinari leading the bench rotation.
“When we have to not play with Mark (Williams) or not play with Nick (Richards), then obviously our defense (has) no shot,” Clifford said. “We can’t rebound.”
The Hornets actually outrebounded the Wizards on Wednesday, 47-40, but Washington snagged 13 offensive rebounds to Charlotte’s 11. That became an 18-12 advantage in second-chance points for the Wizards.
–Field Level Media
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