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Late surge leads Hornets past Pelicans

Mar 21, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) dribbles the ball against New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) during the second quarter at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier scored 17 points apiece and the Charlotte Hornets finally caught up in the final minutes in a 106-103 victory against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday in a clash of teams vying for playoff spots.

Charlotte’s Mason Plumlee scored on two dunks in the final minute, but Pelicans rookie guard Jose Alvarado answered the second of those with a hoop, cutting the gap to 104-103. Ball countered by making a running floater with 8.9 seconds to stretch Charlotte’s lead in what became their fifth consecutive win.

The hosts nearly forced a turnover before Devonte’ Graham, an ex-Hornet playing as a visitor for the first time in Charlotte, missed on a desperation heave from just inside midcourt.

Miles Bridges tacked on 16 points on his 24th birthday, Isaiah Thomas scored 15 points off the bench, reserve Montrezl Harrell had 12 points and Plumlee finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets. Charlotte made 13 of 19 shots in the fourth quarter.

CJ McCollum had 27 points and six assists while Jonas Valanciunas added 24 points and 18 rebounds for the Pelicans, who had won three of their previous four games, including a road game a night earlier at Atlanta. Reserve Naji Marshall contributed 14 points.

Ball accounted for four of Charlotte’s 13 baskets from 3-point range, with the team attempting 37 treys. New Orleans was 9-for-24 from long distance.

Down by six after three quarters, the Hornets later scored eight straight points to tie the game at 95-95.

The Pelicans had missed eight shots in a row before Jaxson Hayes dunked to break the drought, giving New Orleans a two-point lead with 2:27 left. Bridges then hit a 3-pointer to push the Hornets ahead for the first time since the first five minutes of the game.

After Hayes made two free throws, P.J. Washington’s 3-pointer with 1:32 to go put Charlotte on top for good.

New Orleans seemed to run into trouble midway through the third quarter when a flagrant-2 foul called against Herbert Jones on an offensive foul resulted in his ejection. However, McCollum racked up 15 points in the period as the Pelicans maintained a lead.

McCollum managed just two points in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media