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Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards to meet, making do without key players

Mar 29, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) shoots the ball over Indiana Pacers forward Justin Holiday (8) during the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are identifying different answers to compensate for the loss of their rookie standout.

The Washington Wizards keep going to Russell Westbrook when they need something big to happen, particularly without their top scorer.

The Hornets and Wizards match up Tuesday night in Washington.

Westbrook is coming off a historic triple double on Monday night – 35 points, 21 assists and 14 rebounds — as the Wizards knocked off the Indiana Pacers 132-124 for their second win in a row. It was the first triple-double in league history to include at least 35 points and 20 assists.

“Consistency definitely has been big for us. That’s accountability,” Wizards forward Robin Lopez said.

The Hornets, meanwhile, had a three-game winning streak snapped with Sunday’s 101-97 overtime loss to visiting Phoenix.

Without guard LaMelo Ball, the Hornets are turning to various potential options. Their style looks a bit different.

“We knew the pace would slow down,” guard Devonte’ Graham said.

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For Washington, Jerome Robinson started in place of guard Bradley Beal, who was out with a hip injury. Beal averages a league-best 31.3 points per game.

The Wizards have received a boost with the addition of Daniel Gafford to the roster. His defense provides Washington with a rim protector.

“It might change the rhythm of this team right now,” Washington’s Rui Hachimura said, referring to Chandler Hutchison as well as Gafford. “It’s going to be fun to play with them.”

Hutchison made his Wizards debut Monday night, providing 18 points off the bench.

The Hornets held Phoenix to 14 points in the fourth quarter in making a comeback that erased a 16-point hole.

“I think our defense is getting better,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “I like where our defense is. It has got to carry us every night.”

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Roster adjustments continue to be an issue for the Hornets. Guard Malik Monk sat out Sunday’s game with a foot injury two nights after a 32-point outing against the Miami Heat.

Graham hit seven 3-point shots on his way to a season-high 30 points to help pick up the slack. However, PJ. Washington didn’t score while logging more than 44 minutes. There was also the Hornets’ debut for guard Brad Wanamaker, who didn’t attempt a shot during a brief stint.

“We’re saying we’ve been here before. Keep fighting, keep getting stops,” Graham said. “Offensively, just believing in our shot and taking it with confidence.”

A key factor for the Hornets tends to be forward Miles Bridges, who provided 18 points and 12 rebounds in the matchup with Phoenix. His intangibles tend to be a boost for Charlotte.

“He brings us an edge, a spirit more than anything,” Borrego said.

The Wizards, who have won only four of their past 14 games, are going for a sweep of a three-game homestand after topping Detroit and Indiana. They’ve won consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 25 and 27.

Washington’s last three-game win streak ended Feb. 22, when a string of five straight games was halted.

Charlotte heads on a six-game road trip as it tries to maintain the top spot in the Southeast Division.

“Right back on the road again,” Graham said. “We’ve been in these close games, beat some good teams.”

The Hornets won 119-97 on Feb. 7 at home in the only previous meeting with Washington this season.

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–Field Level Media