It was Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington's night against the Hornets Monday.
He was doing it all for the Blazers.
The Trail Blazers and Hornets were trading baskets for the first seven minutes of action.
Charlotte’s backcourt of LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier got off to a hot start from behind the arc. The duo combined for 15 points in the first quarter to help the Hornets take a 33-27 lead.
For the Blazers, their gameplan of running Damian Lillard off multiple screens all night worked to Portland's advantage. Whenever the Hornets gave Lillard the slightest space, he made them pay.
But it was the play of Covington that changed the game early for the Trail Blazers.
After a tied game at 59 at halftime, the Trail Blazers came out with more energy in the third, yet it wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter when they were able to really put the Hornets away. Portland defeated Charlotte 123-111.
The Blazers were red hot from three. As a team, they finished the game 52.2 percent from deep. The Blazers hit a franchise record 24 threes on the night.
With the win, the Blazers snapped their four-game losing skid. Portland was once again without Harry Giles (left calf strain), CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
For the Hornets, Gordon Hayward (right hand; contusion) and Cody Zeller (left hip; contusion), and Devonte' Graham (left knee; patella femoral discomfort) were out.
Following Sunday’s practice, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said there was no update on Giles’ timeline.
The Blazers’ three-point shooting was the most consistent part of their game all night. Whether it was Damian Lillard’s step-back three or a kick out to Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr. or Gary Trent Jr., Portland was automatic from long distance.
Carmelo Anthony had it cooking from deep in the fourth.
After Hornets guard LaMelo Ball got off to a hot start, Trent Jr. took it upon himself to slow down Ball and to get buckets of his own. To start the third quarter it was the Gary Trent Jr. offensive show.
But it was Robert Covington’s energy on the defensive end that elevated Portland’s team defense. RoCo made his presence felt on both ends. With his deflections, steals, and rim protection, he made it difficult for the Hornets to get off an easy shot. And on the other end, his shot came easy to him.
Just minutes into the third quarter, Covington had a plus-16 while the rest of the starters were a plus-4 or plus-1. He notched 21 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Portland shot well as a team against Charlotte, but veteran Carmelo Anthony struggled to find his rhythm on that end. However, a shooter is going to keep shooting and that’s what Melo did. He hit a big three with 9:49 in the final period to push the Blazers’ lead to 16. Melo finished 10-of-10 from the field for 29 points.
Nassir Little and Rodney Hood also brought a spark off the bench Monday night. Little showed of his hops with a couple of second half dunks.
Portland allowed Charlotte to break free on the perimeter. The Hornets finished the first half shooting 47.8 percent from three and 51.1 percent from the field.
Midway through the third quarter, the Blazers had their chances to shut the door on the Hornets and run away with the game. But Portland allowed Ball to continue his scoring and playmaking.
After a slow start, Melo showed that his still has hops throwing down a hammer early in the second quarter:
Charlotte got out and ran early against the Blazers. The Hornets had 16 fastbreak points in the first half to Portland’s two.
Next up: The Blazers will play in their second to last game of the First Half on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors. Portland and Golden State are scheduled to tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.