Hornets top Wizards 124-108, fail to improve play-in seeding

Apr 10, 2022, 3:07 AM | Updated: 4:20 pm
Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball, right, drives to the basket around Washington Wizards center D...

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball, right, drives to the basket around Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

(AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets finished strong.

Now they’re hoping to carry that momentum into the play-in tournament.

The Hornets beat the Washington Wizards 124-108 on Sunday behind 25 points from Terry Rozier and 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists from LaMelo Ball, but were unable to improve their seed heading into the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Hornets will be the 10th seed after finishing 43-39. Charlotte’s 43 wins are the most by a 10th place team in the NBA since the Seattle SuperSonics won 44 games in 2000-01.

“Most years we would be the seven or eight seed,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “The East got better and we got better. We have a shot to keep moving forward. We have put ourselves in position to continue our season and have a meaningful game on the road.”

Charlotte will face the ninth-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. The winner of that game plays the loser of the Cleveland-Brooklyn game for an opportunity to advance to the playoffs.

The Hornets stumbled into the play-in tournament last year, losing their final five regular-season games before getting blown out 144-117 by Indiana in the 9 vs. 10 play-in game.

This year, they believe they’re in a different place mentally and physically.

Charlotte won 11 of 16 games to close the season, igniting confidence that they can win two straight road games and qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2015-16.

“It’s a whole different vibe this year, I feel like,” Ball said.

Rozier said the Hornets are “playing possibly our best basketball” of the season.

“We feel like we can definitely win and sneak into the playoffs,” Rozier said. “I know once we get in there everybody is going to be itching and they are going to love where we’re at — because this is where the real fun is.”

Charlotte entered Sunday with a chance to move up to high as the seventh seed had Brooklyn, Cleveland and Atlanta all lost on Sunday. However, all three teams closed the regular season with victories, rending the outcome of Charlotte’s game meaningless.

The Hornets got 14 points third quarter points from Isaiah Thomas and 18 fourth quarter points from Rozier to beat the Wizards.

Washington had cut Charlotte’s lead to 93-90 in the fourth quarter before Rozier got hot, scoring 15 points as part of a 20-9 run to break the game open.

Rui Hachimura had 21 points and Corey Kispert added 20 points for the Wizards (35-47), who failed to make the postseason for the third time in the last four seasons.

“It’s easy to miss the mark when you’re out of the playoffs and guys just kind of pack it in and get through it, but I thought we still tried to get something out of it and that’s extremely important for all of our guys, but in particular our young core,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

EXIT INTERVIEWS

Unseld said he’s already begun the process of conducting exit interviews with players before Sunday.

“It’s kind of a chance to give your opinion on things that we didn’t have a chance to touch on during the season,” Kispert said. “Things move so fast in the NBA. It gives guys a chance to give coach feedback and he really wants to hear it.”

DEFENDING YOUNG

The Hornets split the season series with the Hawks, with each team winning once on the other team’s floor.

To advance, the Hornets will need to contain Trae Young.

They did a good job of that in the last meeting, holding Young to a season-low nine points in a 116-106 victory on March 16.

“We can’t let him breath,” Rozier said. “We can’t give him no light. We can’t give him no confidence. He’s a pretty confident player but we just have to make it tough for him — and we have done that in the past a little bit.”

TIP INS

Wizards: Allowed the Hornets to shoot 53.9% from the field.

Hornets: Gordon Hayward’s season is likely over. The Hornets forward will be out indefinitely with continued discomfort in his left foot, the team announced. Hayward’s foot will be placed in a cast to immobilize his foot and he will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks. … Rozier and Ball combined to shoot 11 of 16 from 3-point range.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

France ski world blasts Asian Winter Games in Saudi Arabia

PARIS (AP) — The French ski federation, mayors from mountain resorts and ski instructors lashed out Thursday at the decision to award the 2029 Asian Winter Games to Saudi Arabia, saying the decision goes against “what is desirable for the planet.” In a joint statement also signed by the union of ski area operators, they […]
1 day ago
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, right, and Belgium's Axel Witsel during the Nations League soccer match ...
Associated Press

Brazil will be top-ranked team at World Cup in Qatar

ZURICH (AP) — Brazil will go to this year’s World Cup as the top-rated team after extending its lead over second-place Belgium in the latest FIFA rankings released Thursday. Brazil won its two warmup games in September — against Ghana and Tunisia — while Belgium lost to the Netherlands in one of its two Nations […]
1 day ago
Arizona Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton, left, collides with Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg...
Associated Press

Drop the puck: What to know about the 2022-23 NHL season

The NHL is back to normal with the regular season stretching from October through the middle of April before the two-month thrill ride that is the chase for the Stanley Cup. Over that time, teams are scheduled to play a total of 1,312 games over 189 days, starting with Nashville and San Jose facing off […]
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) battle for t...
Associated Press

LeBron in Vegas? He makes an expansion pitch to Adam Silver

LAS VEGAS (AP) — LeBron James came to Las Vegas for a preseason game. And a pitch. James, who has spoken in the past about wanting to eventually own an NBA franchise — with Las Vegas on his mind — sent a crystal-clear message to Commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday night, reminding him of his […]
1 day ago
FILE - Dallas Stars' Jason Robertson skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against t...
Associated Press

Stars sign 41-goal scorer Robertson to $31M, 4-year deal

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Jason Robertson has signed a $31 million, four-year contract with the Dallas Stars after the young 40-goal scorer missed the first two weeks of training camp. The Stars announced the deal late Wednesday night, after their exhibition game in Denver, only a week before the regular season opener Oct. 13 at […]
1 day ago
The ski slopes are almost devoid of snow at the Tūroa ski field, on Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand on Se...
Associated Press

Missing snow puts famed New Zealand ski areas on precipice

TUROA SKI AREA, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s Turoa ski area is usually a white wonderland at this time of year, its deep snowpack supporting its famed spring skiing. This season, it’s largely a barren moonscape, with tiny patches of snow poking out between vast fields of jagged volcanic boulders. The ski area was […]
1 day ago
Hornets top Wizards 124-108, fail to improve play-in seeding