03/28 22:56 CDT Washington scores career-high 43 as Hornets top Thunder
Washington scores career-high 43 as Hornets top Thunder
By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) --- P.J. Washington scored 22 of his career-high 43 points
in the fourth quarter, and the Charlotte Hornets rallied to beat the Oklahoma
City Thunder 137-134 on Tuesday night for their third straight win.
Washington made 8 of 11 field goals and 3 of 5 3-pointers in the final quarter
to help the Hornets recover from an eight-point deficit early in the period.
"Credit to my teammates getting me in the right spots," he said. "I was just
trying to be aggressive with the shots that I did take."
Three Thunder players scored career highs --- Isaiah Joe with 33 points and
Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams with 31 each. But Williams and Giddey each
missed one of two free throws in the final 16 seconds, and Williams missed a
3-pointer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
It was a potentially costly loss for Oklahoma City. The Thunder were looking to
strengthen their position in the Western Conference play-in race despite being
short-handed. Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered the day
fourth in the league averaging 31.3 points per game, sat out with a sprained
"We have to buckle down and understand what we are playing for and what the
stakes are at this end of the season," said Giddey, who also had 10 rebounds
and nine assists.
Charlotte was short-handed, too. Terry Rozier (right foot discomfort) and Kelly
Oubre (strained right shoulder) sat out for the third straight game and Dennis
Smith (sprained right toe) also did not play.
That didn't stop the Hornets from scoring 80 points after halftime.
"I was most disappointed in our defense, especially in the second half, really
from the first five minutes all the way through," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault
said. "We've got to look in the mirror on that."
The Hornets were coming off two wins over the Dallas Mavericks, who also need
victories to get into the Western Conference playoffs.
Joe hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the second quarter to give the
Thunder a 68-57 lead. Oklahoma City took a 99-93 lead into the fourth, but the
Hornets battled back. Former Thunder guard Theo Maledon scored, was fouled and
made the free throw to put Charlotte ahead, 104-103, with just under 10 minutes
Maledon hit a 3-pointer with six minutes left to give Charlotte a 123-110 lead.
The Thunder responded with a 7-0 run, with six of the points coming from Lu
Dort, to stay in the game. Oklahoma City tied the game at 129 on an acrobatic
layup by Williams with just over two minutes to play, and it was close the rest
of the way.
"Obviously, we had our moments tonight, but certainly didn't string together
enough in order to earn the win," Daigneault said.
Hornets: Maledon got his second start of the season. He finished with 19 points
and nine assists. ... C Nick Richards had 14 points and 11 rebounds and F/C Kai
Jones added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Thunder: G Lindy Waters (left foot plantar fasciitis) sat out. ... Giddey
scored 11 points in the first quarter. ... F Aleksej Pokusevski returned after
a leg injury, playing for the Thunder for the first time since Dec. 27. He went
scoreless in 10 minutes.
It was just the third time three Thunder players scored at least 30 points in a
game. In 2012, it was Russell Westbrook (31), James Harden (30) and Kevin
Durant (30). In 2015, it was Anthony Morrow (32), Westbrook (31) and Enes
Hornets: Host the Chicago Bulls on Friday.
Thunder: Host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
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