Despite a 42-point night, P.J. Washington wasn’t the Hornets’ best starter vs. Kings
The month of March could not have started better for P.J. Washington and the Charlotte Hornets. Washington put up 42 points on 15-of-23 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 from deep to beat the Sacramento Kings, 127-126.
“I felt like I got it going early around the paint and then my three-point shot felt good,” Washington said.
It also helps that the Kings missed six-straight free throws with less than two minutes left in the game. Washington chipped in with nine boards, two steals, and two blocks but his +/- was a -5, which was far from the best among the starters. The best +/- stat of all Hornets starters belonged to rookie phenom LaMelo Ball who posted a +6 rating to go along with 24 points and 12 assists. Ball logged 38 minutes on the night, having his fingerprints all over the game.
It seemed as if Ball could do no wrong on the floor offensively, even some of the stuff that doesn’t show up in the boxscore such as hockey assists, off-ball screens, and so much more for the Hornets. Washington’s big night is the main highlight, but Malik Monk and Miles Bridges also chipped in by scoring in double figures.
Monk poured in 21 points, including a game-winning and-one layup to ice the game.
“I told Melo to pass it to P(J), but he said ‘Nah you get it.’ And I just had to make something happen,” Monk said to reporters after the game.
Monk also credited head coach James Borrego for remaining resilient throughout the game. The Hornets have been battling from behind all season long, so having Ball, Washington, Bridges, and Monk step up was enough to steal this game on the road.
The Hornets were down by nine points with a little over a minute left to play. They only had a 1.6 percent chance to win the game at that point, but that was enough time for the Hornets to take advantage of the Kings’ meltdowns from the stripe, as well as the careless defense in the paint.
The Hornets went on a 12-3 run in the last minute of the game to put the cherry on top of their west coast trip opener. They play the Portland Trail Blazers on March 1st where they will need every bit of that resiliency to get past Damian Lillard and Co. The Blazers are coming off a four-game losing streak, so it is safe to say they will be motivated to get a win on their home court against the Hornets.
The Hornets are looking t0 build off their recent victory over the Kings to get back to .500 against the Blazers and stay within the tight Eastern Conference playoff hunt. The Blazers are down a couple of vital pieces, like C.J. McCollum and Just Nurkic, so the Hornets could capitalize on the missing holes in their lineup.
Maybe Washington and Ball could carry the momentum from their big games into this matchup to overpower a Blazer team that has been heavily relying on Lillard to carry the load offensively. Despite Ball and Washington playing 38 minutes or more against the Kings, they should have enough left in the tank to put together another masterful performance in Portland.