Trail Blazers

Instant Analysis: Hornets catch fire early, defeat Blazers

Trail Blazers
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It was an ugly start for the Trail Blazers Sunday in Charlotte. 

And Portland wasn't able to recover.

The Hornets were the aggressors all night. They also found success in transition against the Blazer defense.

Whether it was scoring or playmaking, Terry Rozier was, once again, the Hornets difference maker to help Charlotte in the dominating 109-101 victory over the Blazers.

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After starting the game 13-of-15 from the field, it was apparent the Hornets were locked in from the jump and ready to attack the Blazers.

It was all Charlotte in the first half as the Hornets took a 65-51 halftime lead thanks to second chance opportunities.

Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard out for the second consecutive game due to right hamstring tendinopathy, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts decided to insert forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson into the starting lineup with CJ McCollum taking over point guard duties.

 

With RHJ starting, Derrick Jones Jr. did not play for the Blazers Sunday. He was not listed on the injury report ahead of the game either.

Terry Rozier led the way early for Charlotte with 17 points in the first quarter as the Hornets took a commanding 44-24 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.

The Blazers cut the lead to 11 early in third, before Rozier and the Hornets surged back on a 12-0 run.

Charlotte led by 21 at the end of three. Midway through the fourth, the Blazers went with a small-ball lineup that helped them cut the deficit to nine as Carmelo Anthony caught fire in the final period. 

The Blazers trailed by as many as 29 in the second half.  

But Rozier made sure the Blazers weren't going to be able to claw all the way back. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: Hornets 109, Trail Blazers 101 

The Good: 

When everything else seemed to go the Hornets way, Jusuf Nurkic came up with a big three-pointer, rebound, or defensive stop.  

Nurkic finished with 12 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 24 minutes of action. This was Nurk's first double-digit scoring game since returning from a wrist injury on Mar. 26.

In his first start this season for the Blazers and just his third game, Hollis-Jefferson brought the energy Sunday. He battled on the boards and worked the baseline on the offensive end. RHJ notched seven points and five rebounds.

 

Carmelo Anthony led the Blazers in the fourth to help make the game interesting again. Melo finished with 24 points.

The Bad: 

As the Blazers have struggled all season defending the break, Portland had a hard time slowing down Charlotte in transition.

The Hornets as a team shot 57.1 percent from the field in the first half, while Terry Rozier started the game hitting his first four shots to help the Hornets shoot 85 percent from the field to start the game.

Rozier finished with 34 points and 10 assists.

Forward PJ Washington added 23 points off the bench. 

With no Damian Lillard that meant the Hornets put all their focus on CJ McCollum. McCollum hit just 2-for-8 from deep. However, he did get his teammates involved, finishing with six assists.

McCollum and the Blazers as a team, not only struggled from three, they also had problems at the free throw line. As a team, Portland went 19-for-28 from the charity stripe.

The Highlight:

Nurkic dropped dimes early:

The Stat: 

The Hornets shot 10-of-19 from three in the first half to Portlands 5-of-19.

Next up: The Trail Blazers will head back to Portland to host the L.A. Clippers Tuesday. The Blazers and Clippers tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.