Hornets’ comeback effort versus Memphis falls short in 125-118 loss

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ziaire Williams (8) dunks the ball and is fouled by Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

CHARLOTTE — Led by a 35-point shooting effort from Terry Rozier, the Charlotte Hornets trimmed a 35-point deficit to just four points in Saturday night’s home matchup versus the Memphis Grizzlies. 

As dynamic as Charlotte’s comeback effort was, the team simply ran out of time as the Grizzlies (40-18) clamped down defensively in the final two minutes for their 125-118 victory.

The Hornets’ struggles within the Spectrum Center continued once again — they haven’t won a home game since Jan. 28.

“We’ve played some good teams and we just have to play better — that’s the bottom line,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “We have a number of home games the rest of the way. We have to get off to better starts and we’ll do that as the goal here, especially at home. We can protect our home court. We did it early in the season and we just have to get back to it.”

LaMelo Ball added 25 points while newcomer Montrezl Harrell posted 20 points and nine rebounds for the Hornets (29-29), who dug themselves into an early 23-4 hole in the first quarter.

Harrell was efficient off the bench in his home debut as a Hornet, shooting 7-of-8 from the field in 29 minutes played. The seventh-year center addressed the media after the game: “I don’t really care about individual stats, especially when it comes to a loss, because I didn’t do everything I could do to help the team win. That’s the overall goal for me.”

By the second quarter, the Grizzlies held a whopping 68-33 lead due to the efforts of three primary shooters: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. 

Morant had a team-high 26 points and six assists in the game for Memphis as Bane scored 25 and Jackson posted 18 points with 10 rebounds. 

The tide turned for the Hornets in the second half, as they outscored the Grizzlies by seven points in the third quarter and 17 points in the fourth quarter. However, the damage done in the first period of the contest proved to be insurmountable for a Charlotte squad that has now lost seven of its past eight games. 

A 119-115 margin on the scoreboard was as close as the Hornets got to what would have been a franchise record for the biggest comeback in team history. 

“We’re all ballplayers and we all want to go out there to compete,” said Rozier, who finished with 35 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. “With that being said, there are two more games till the All-Star Game and we definitely want to get a win in both of them.”

Charlotte will travel to Minnesota for a Tuesday night game against the Timberwolves (29-27) before coming home for a Thursday night matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat (37-20).

The Hornets currently hold the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference standings with only one game separating them between the Brooklyn Nets (29-27) in the eighth spot.