Who had the Charlotte Hornets at .500 at the conclusion of this West Coast trip?
The Hornets beat the injury-depleted Golden State Warriors 93-87 Saturday, with Dwayne Bacon scoring a career-high 25 points. Terry Rozier added 20 points and seven assists.
The Hornets overcame some terrible 3-point shooting to go 3-3 on the season.
Charlotte rookie Cody Martin disrupted the Warriors’ inbound play with 24 seconds left and the Hornets up one, causing a turnover by Golden State’s Damion Lee.
Rozier missed two free throws for the Hornets. But then, Martin made one of two free throws with 12 seconds left, missing the second. The Hornets recovered the rebound, but Bacon was tied up for a jump ball. Martin controlled the tip, giving the Hornets possession with 5.5 seconds left.
Ky Bowman fouled Rozier on the ensuing inbound pass. Rozier made both free throws with 4.9 seconds left for a four-point lead. The Warriors’ attempt at a length-of-court pass was broken up, sending Marvin Williams to the line for two more free throws and the win.
Man, did Bacon need the first half he had Saturday. Coming into this game, he was shooting 33% from the field and 25% from 3-point range. If there was a starter in jeopardy of falling to the second unit, it was Bacon at shooting guard, with Malik Monk coming on strong of late. Then, Bacon made six of his nine shots in the first half. The coaches want him attacking the rim relentlessly to maximize his powerful body. Saturday, he did that from the start.
That 3-point mastery didn’t last long, huh? The Hornets entered this game with the NBA’s top 3-point percentage at 41.9%. Then, they went 1-of-11 from the arc in the first half and 5-of-29 for the game. Only Monk had a make from 3 before halftime. Among the oddities that contributed to this: Rookie P.J. Washington -- averaging five 3-point attempts and shooting 52% from the arc -- never took one in the first half.
Anytime this season the Hornets commit fewer turnovers than an opponent (13 to the Warriors’ 18), it feels like progress. Obviously, the Warriors are hurting with all their best players (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) out, but Charlotte has been pretty self-destructive this season with giveaways, and they cut down on that Saturday.
Beyond the numbers
Considering there were some projections of doom nationally, like a 0-10 start, the Hornets come home from a four-game West Coast trip healthy (the exception being Nic Batum’s broken finger) and should feel confidence. There is certainly more synergy between them after six games with two brand-new Hornets (Washington and Rozier) starting.