With the race for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference heating up, the Charlotte Hornets were in desperate need of a win, coming off four-straight losses.
Enter Terry Rozier.
Rozier turned in an electrifying performance to lead the Hornets to a 109-101 win over the Portland Trail Blazers to move to .500 on the season, good for eighth in the East standings, just 2.0 games back of the sixth seed New York Knicks.
The 27-year-old poured in 34 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals, knocking down 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. He now has recorded double-doubles in two consecutive games and is the first player in franchise history with 30/5/10 and 5+ threes per Stat Muse
There are 4 player averaging 20+ PPG, 3+ 3PG on 40+ 3P% this season:- StatMuse (@statmuse) April 19, 2021
Terry Rozier pic.twitter.com/lVHB5ltxjY
Rozier started the game with a bang, pouring in 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting and dishing out six assists as the Hornets raced out to a 44-24 lead after 12 minutes, with Rozier scoring or assisting on 31 of Charlotte's 44 first-quarter points.
The Blazers brought it back to 14 by the half and as close as 11 with 8:03 remaining in the third before the Hornets reeled off a 21-3 run in the space of four minutes to take a 90-61 lead, with Rozier burying three triples in that span.
"I thought Terry was great tonight," Hornets head coach James Borrego said post-game.
"He came out, he set the tone, he was making shots, close to a triple-double - an all-around performance by Terry. It's got to be one of his finer performances as a Hornet. He said to me before the game, 'We need this one. I'm going to give you what I can tonight and you ride me as much as you need me to get this one.' He was locked in and tuned in from the start."
Carmelo Anthony led a fourth-quarter rally from the Blazers, who were playing without Damian Lillard. recording 24 points on 6-of-12 from three, while CJ Mccollum added 22 points.
For the Hornets, PJ Washington finished with 23 points on 5-of-11 shooting from three, eight rebounds and four blocks, while Miles Bridges added to his already expansive highlight reel with a monster jam to close out the first half.
He recorded 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks on the night.
😱 Miles Bridges Alert 😱- NBA (@NBA) April 19, 2021
📱💻: https://t.co/LIPOzoirXI pic.twitter.com/i2RUFxdra3
With LaMelo Ball (wrist) and Devonte' Graham (quad) sidelined, Rozier has taken on more of the ball handling and playmaking duties for the Hornets, notching 28 assists across his past three games and he's feeling more than comfortable at point guard.
"It's unpredictable when I'm on the ball as opposed to when I'm off the ball and teams can focus on me more," Rozier said.
Ball is working his way back, participating in pre-game drills in the hopes he can return this season, while Gordon Hayward is still a few weeks away after suffering right foot sprain at the beginning of the month.
An encouraging sign: LaMelo Ball doing a workout (lefty, with cast on his right hand) pic.twitter.com/d4X7jiXemW- Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) April 11, 2021
As it stands, the Hornets are 0.5 of a game back of the Miami Heat in seventh and 2.0 back of the New York Knicks in sixth for the final playoff spot to avoid the Play-In Tournament, while they hold a 5.0 game lead on the Toronto Raptors, who currently hold the 10th seed, the final Play-In spot.
While they'll likely feature in the Play-In Tournament, the Hornets can still guarantee themselves a playoff berth by finishing sixth or higher, especially with two games remaining against the Knicks in the coming weeks.
The two teams will meet Wednesday (ET) at Madison Square Garden, with the Knicks riding a six-game win streak.
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