Recap: Hornets outmatched for the second night in a row and lose to Suns, 128-97

Jan 25, 2023 - 11:00 AM
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Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets went on a huge run in the second quarter but still managed to lose by 31 points to the Phoenix Suns, 128-97.

Gordon Hayward was a late addition to the injury report due to an aggravation of his hamstring injury. He joined LaMelo Ball and Cody Martin on the DNP list. With the dearth of healthy guards, rookie Bryce McGowens got his first start. He was quiet offensively and struggled to keep track of Cam Johnson on the defensive end. Johnson hit four 3-pointers in the first four-plus minutes of the game as the Suns built an early lead and set the tone for how the game would go. The Hornets tried running him off the line, but he hit a couple of mid range jumpers. He alone led the Hornets 16-7 at one point. The Hornets shot just 26% of the field in the opening quarter and trailed by 21 after one.

Jock Landale took over the role of forward that makes threes with two of them early in the second quarter. The game hit a low point for the Hornets when Josh Okogie hit a three to put the Suns up 47-18, which was followed by the Hornets committing an uncontested turnover on the inbound. On the ensuing Suns possession, they rebounded two of their own misses before the Hornets were finally bailed out by an offensive foul call. The tides temporarily shifted as the starters for both teams filtered back in. Terry Rozier hit three 3-pointers to jumpstart a 27-5 run over a six and a half minute stretch of the second quarter. Bryce McGowens and Mason Plumlee converted and-1s then Plumlee found Jalen McDaniels in the lane for a floater that cut the Suns lead to single digits. Cam Johnson broke the run with one more three before the halftime break.

PJ Washington opened the second half with a 3-point play to get the Hornets back within single digits, but the Suns quickly answered. The Hornets had one more chance to get the game that close, but Mason Plumlee missed a rather easy layup. Chris Paul scored five straight after that, and it started a Suns run that restored their lead to a point that it hovered around 20 points. The Suns had a pseudo-4-point play in the closing seconds of the third after Nick Richards committed his second inbound turnover off a made shot. The Hornets allowed the Suns to make seven threes and shoot 66.7% from the field in a 40 point effort and went into the fourth down by 21.

It quickly became clear that the Hornets weren’t going to make a fourth quarter push. They missed their first five field goal attempts then watched the Suns extend their lead to 25. Nick Richards had some nice blocks, but the Hornets couldn’t make any shots, particularly in the halfcourt. Both teams emptied the benches about halfway through the quarter. Mark Williams, who was replaced in the regular rotation by Nick Richards for this game, had a nice putback and midrange jumper. Kai Jones had a putback of his own while getting fouled in an otherwise boring bout of garbage time.

The Hornets shooting struggles continued. They made just six of 25 3-pointers while the Suns made 22 of their 40 attempts from beyond the arc. Jalen McDaniels and Mason Plumlee were the only regular rotation players to put up decently efficient performances. Guards Terry Rozier and Dennis Smith combined to shoot 11 for 34 from the field for just 27 points.

The Hornets outscored the Suns 27-8 in the final seven minutes of the second quarter. They were outscored 120-70 across the game’s other 41 minutes.

The Hornets return home for a quick two game homestand before they hit the road. That starts against the Bulls on Thursday.

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