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Hornets down Wizards, will be 10th seed in East

Apr 10, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee (24) during the first quarter at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

With its play-in seeding hanging in the balance, sluggish Charlotte turned to veteran retread Isaiah Thomas, who summoned his old touch in the Hornets’ 124-108 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards on Sunday afternoon.

Scoring all 14 of his points in the final five minutes of the third quarter, the 33-year-old Thomas gave Charlotte (43-39) the lead for good.

Then Terry Rozier made sure the Hornets held it as he scored 18 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. LaMelo Ball added 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Hornets won their third straight.

Charlotte opened the game with a spot clinched in the play-in tournament and a chance to move all the way up from the No. 10 seed to No. 7. But each of the other three teams vying for play-in position also won, leaving the Hornets at No. 10 and having to travel to No. 9 Atlanta for an elimination game.

After a strong start to the season, Washington (35-47) failed to make the playoffs. The depleted Wizards, who were without their top four scorers on Sunday, were led by Rui Hachimura with 21 points while Corey Kispert added 20.

Kispert gave Washington the lead twice in the third quarter before Thomas came off the bench to lift the Hornets. During his spree, Thomas made two 3-pointers. When Jalen McDaniels made a corner 3-pointer to close the quarter, Charlotte was up 89-82.

A corner 3-pointer by Washington’s Anthony Gill cut Charlotte’s lead to 93-90 with 8:49 left. But Rozier answered with eight straight points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and a pull-up jumper.

After Hachimura hit a jumper, the Hornets scored the next seven points. Rozier made a jumper, Montrezl Harrell threw down a fastbreak slam dunk and McDaniels, who finished with 14 points, made another 3-pointer for a 108-92 bulge.

Washington led over the first eight minutes as Deni Avdija scored 10 of the Wizards’ first 15 points.

But during a 7-minute, 12-second stretch that bridged the first and second quarters, Charlotte answered with a 26-8 spurt to take its biggest lead of the half, 44-32. Cody Martin ignited the run with a driving 3-point play, then Ball and Kelly Oubre Jr. fueled it with two 3-pointers each.

Sloppy ball-handling by the Hornets, who had 11 turnovers in the first half, helped get the Wizards close. Hachimura scored seven points in the final nine minutes of the half and Tomas Satoransky added a 3-pointer as Washington closed to within 56-54 at the half.

— Field Level Media