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Hornets try to match Wizards’ recent rhythm

Sportsnaut
Nov 7, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (33) goes to the basket defended by Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee (24) during the second half at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards are coming off Friday night games that had something in common, as neither was decided in regulation.

From there, there were different routes.

So expect the Wizards to be in a little better shape when the teams meet Sunday night in Washington.

The Wizards beat the visiting Miami Heat 107-106 in overtime for their fifth victory in their last six games.

The Hornets have to search for any positives, particularly after a bizarre double-overtime loss at Cleveland.

Charlotte came back from 10 down in the final 45 seconds of regulation and then was in position to win in the first overtime before ultimately suffering its 10th loss in the last 11 games.

“You have to be able to handle disappointment, frustration and success and move on,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “There’s a lot to learn from (a game like that).”

Washington’s stretch of positive results began with a 108-100 victory Nov. 7 at Charlotte.

Kyle Kuzma of the Wizards had a team-high 20 points in that game, beginning a stretch of four outings with 20 or more points in a six-game span.

It’s no wonder Kuzma’s confidence has been soaring. He hit a game-tying 3-pointer to get Friday night’s game into overtime.

“My mindset was I’m going to jack this thing up from where I was standing or I’m just going to make a simple play and hit Kuz,” Washington guard Bradley Beal said, giving his version of endorsing the confidence he has in Kuzma.

The Hornets often bog down offensively late in the games. On Friday against Cleveland, they perked up in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Cavaliers 35-23.

“Fourth quarter, our offense has been a problem,” Clifford said. “(Against Cleveland), it was terrific.”

Charlotte reserve center Nick Richards produced his third career double-double. That came in part because of a career-best 14 rebounds.

More consistency from players such as Richards would be a boost for the Hornets, whose roster tends to have players coming and going in terms of availability. Point guard LaMelo Ball is out again with an ankle injury and has played in only three games.

On the plus side, Gordon Hayward (shoulder) returned to action Friday night.

“It was great to have Gordon back,” Clifford said of the forward’s 13 points in 42 minutes of action.

Hayward was one of four Charlotte players to log 39 or more minutes, so the wear and tear factor might be worth monitoring. Even though it’s early in the season, several of the Hornets have been called upon for extensive duty because of the evolving roster.

While Charlotte’s roster seems limited to some degree, the Wizards are turning to all sorts of producers. Taj Gibson didn’t play in the first half Friday against Miami, then showed up and made key contributions.

“Taj really won the game,” Kuzma said. “Taj coming in really just changed it. … Had eight rebounds and huge defensive stops.”

Sunday’s game marks the last in Washington’s six-game homestand. The Wizards are 4-1 so far. Three of Charlotte’s four wins this season have come on the road.

–Field Level Media