Charlotte Hornets

Rookie P.J. Washington (23 points) pushes Hornets past Kings for 1st road win

The Charlotte Hornets won’t go winless for the West Coast.

They took advantage of a Sacramento Kings team that fell to 0-5, building a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter for a 118-111 victory at Golden 1 Arena.

Rookie P.J. Washington made all seven of his first-half shots and finished with 23 points for the Hornets, who improved to 2-3. Terry Rozier added 22.

The Hornets won their opener at home against the Chicago Bulls, then lost to three Western Conference foes, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

The Hornets complete their four-game trip through the California teams Saturday against the Golden State Warriors. Warriors’ All-Star and former Davidson star Stephen Curry broke his left hand after taking a hard fall Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns.

Nice buzz

There is a steadiness about rookie Washington’s demeanor. He is neither surprised by how well he’s played, nor full of himself for it. His ability to both post up and sink NBA 3-pointers makes him a tough cover. He plays bigger than his 6-foot-7 height defensively.

That’s a heck of a combination for a team desperate for a star.

Bee stings

It’s not news that the Hornets have turnover problems this season, but the extent of it is becoming historic. Charlotte entered this game averaging 19.3 give-aways, and committed eight Wednesday in the first quarter alone. In 30 seasons of the NBA in Charlotte, the franchise record is 16.2 per game for the 1992-93 Hornets.

Building blocks

Most of this season the Martin twins — rookies Cody and Caleb — will either be in Greensboro with the Swarm or at the end of the Hornets’ bench. But with Nic Batum injured (broken finger) there are a few minutes each game now to give them a taste of NBA basketball. In a season all about development, that has value.

Beyond the numbers

The Hornets backup center spot behind Cody Zeller might be the most fluid rotation situation this season. Against the Kings, Coach James Borrego went small in the front court, playing Marvin Williams at center rather than Bismack Biyombo or Willy Hernangomez. When that works, it creates more minutes for Washington and Bridges, but it gives away a lot of size.

Rick Bonnell is a sportswriter/columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He has been in Charlotte since 1988, when the NBA arrived, and has covered the Hornets continuously. A former president of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, Bonnell also writes occasionally on the NFL and college sports.
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