– PJ Washington scored 31 points, the highest from any Hornets player in preseason since 2007.
– Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford praised Washington for his shooting and defense.
– Bryce McGowens sprained his left ankle and will have an MRI.
Sunday evening marked a historic moment for the Charlotte Hornets as PJ Washington put on an incredible performance, scoring 31 points in their preseason victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was one of the highest-scoring preseason games in recent Hornets history. Washington’s impressive display included shooting 13-of-18 from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. In addition to his scoring, he also contributed 3 rebounds and 2 assists in just 24 minutes of play.
This wasn’t the first time Washington has dominated against the Thunder. Back in March of this year, he dropped a career-high 43 points against them. His performance in this preseason game became the highest point total from any Hornets player in preseason since Gerald Wallace’s 34-point game in 2007.
After the game, head coach Steve Clifford praised Washington for his shooting and defensive awareness. Clifford highlighted Washington’s ability to organize the defense and ramp up the intensity. In response, Washington credited his teammates for finding him in good scoring positions and expressed the need for defensive improvements.
Looking ahead to the upcoming NBA season, coach Clifford emphasized the importance of finding a balance between offense and defense. He acknowledged that the team had moments of strong offense but lacked defensive consistency. Clifford recognized the challenge posed by Oklahoma City’s skilled centers and emphasized the need for better defensive communication.
Unfortunately, the Hornets suffered a setback with Bryce McGowens spraining his left ankle in the second quarter. McGowens, who had already been sidelined earlier in the month, will undergo an MRI to assess the severity of the injury.
In terms of the rest of the team, Terry Rozier contributed 19 points, LaMelo Ball added 16, and Mark Williams scored 11. However, coach Clifford took the opportunity to praise Frank Ntilikina for his defensive prowess. Clifford declared Ntilikina as their best defender, highlighting his ability to guard primary scorers and his excellent team defense. In addition to his defensive contributions, Ntilikina recorded six assists without a single turnover, further solidifying his impact on the court.
Overall, Sunday’s preseason clash showcased the Hornets’ potential for the upcoming season. Washington’s standout performance, combined with the team’s offensive firepower and defensive improvements, sets a promising tone for Charlotte as they strive for a successful 2023/24 NBA season.