Hornets blow 15-point lead as Kings claim 115-108 win

(AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

CHARLOTTE — A promising offensive performance for the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night turned into a blown lead and eventual loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Trailing at halftime by a 15-point margin, the Kings (2-4) exploded for 37 third-quarter points as they clawed their way to a 115-108 win over the Hornets (3-4) at Spectrum Center thanks to the sharp shooting of Kevin Huerter and Davion Mitchell.

The two Sacramento guards combined for 49 points, including multiple clutch 3-pointers down the stretch.

While Charlotte made 51.2% of its shots and held the Kings to 43.5% shooting, the Hornets struggled with handling the ball and had 21 turnovers.

“The third quarter was just a combination of the turnovers — many of which were unforced — and the fouling. You’re not going to win fouling like that,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “Every time we had a chance to either make a smart play or contest, we slapped down. And, you know, you just can’t win like that. We probably gifted them 10-12 free throws tonight.”

P.J. Washington scored a team-high 28 points for the Hornets, building off his 31-point performance on Saturday night. In the last two games, Washington has made 25 of his 44 shot attempts (56.8%).

Dennis Smith Jr. had another solid performance for the Hornets with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 16 points and four rebounds, while Mason Plumlee had a team-high 11 rebounds and a dozen points in his best game of the early season.

Jalen McDaniels contributed 13 points and four assists off the bench.

While Charlotte has been scoring without LaMelo Ball (ankle) and Terry Rozier (ankle), the Hornets have been prone to cold streaks in the middle of games.

“[The Kings] really increased their ball pressure and got into us more, and we were struggling to score,” Clifford said of his team’s struggles early in the third quarter. “We were ahead but they had kind of taken control of the game there.”

The Hornets will have a chance to get back into the win column on Wednesday when they travel to Chicago to face the Bulls (3-4).