Hayward, Ball lead late Hornets surge past Wizards in their NBA In-Season Tournament debut


Daniel Gafford elevates for slam dunk vs. Charlotte Hornets

Daniel Gafford elevates for slam dunk vs. Charlotte Hornets

WASHINGTON -- — Gordon Hayward scored 27 points, LaMelo Ball added 25 and the Charlotte Hornets shook off their 3-point shooting struggles just in time to earn a 124-117 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

Mark Williams added 21 points and career-high 24 rebounds for the Hornets, who made a winning debut in the NBA In-Season Tournament with a road victory in East Group B.

Williams' total included 15 offensive rebounds, a franchise record.

"Those extra chances, those extra possessions turned out to be critical,” Williams said.

Charlotte entered Friday as the Eastern Conference's worst team from beyond the arc and made a season-low six 3s on 28 attempts.

But between Ball and Hayward, the Hornets sank four of their last five from deep to split a home-and-home set after Washington's win on Wednesday.

Williams led Charlotte to a dominating 67-36 edge on the glass — a plus-31 margin that marked another franchise best — to help the game stay close until the shooting finally came around.

When it did, the Hornets outscored the Wizards 36-20 in the fourth quarter.

“We’re going to have to figure out the 3-point shooting,” said Hornets coach Steve Clifford. “'Cause tonight, we got ones that we’ll make eventually, and we did make them late. But as much as anything, it's just great fourth-quarter play."

Kyle Kuzma scored 17 points for Washington, failing to reach 20 for the first time this season. Tyus Jones added 16 as the Wizards fell to 0-2 in Group B play.

“Obviously, it was a very winnable game,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. “Take care of one area and I think it just changes the game completely.”

After starting the game down 15-3 and trailing by as many as 16 in the second quarter, Charlotte responded to take two brief third-quarter leads before edging in front again when Ball's fourth 3 from the left wing made it 110-109 with 4:24 left in the game.

Ball fed Hayward for another 3 before Hayward converted a three-point play following a leaner in traffic to stretch it to 116-111.

The Hornets missed their final 3, but Williams was there for a follow-up dunk to put an exclamation point on Charlotte's late surge.

“We started making some shots — Melo made some big ones down the stretch,” Williams said. “And then we got some stops. Twenty points we gave up in the fourth? That’s big time.”


Hornets: Visit New York on Sunday.

Wizards: Visit Brooklyn on Sunday.


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