The Charlotte Hornets experience nothing but trouble in Portland and they aim to end a 14-game skid in the Rose City when they visit the Trail Blazers on Monday night.
Charlotte last won in Portland on March 29, 2008 when the team was known as the Bobcats and Emeka Okafor was the squad’s high scorer with 21 points. Trail Blazers icon Damian Lillard was a high school senior.
The Hornets will take another shot at ending the skid during the fifth contest of a six-game road trip that ends Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors.
Charlotte is 2-2 on the excursion after outlasting Los Angeles Lakers 134-130 on Friday. The Hornets have won two of their last three games after losing their previous eight contests.
Gordon Hayward scored the tiebreaking points with 6.3 seconds left and P.J. Washington added two free throws to seal it.
“We’ll take it. We don’t care if we win by half a point,” guard Terry Rozier said after returning from a two-game absence due to a hip injury. “It’s all about paying attention to details. … That’s the most important thing.”
Washington led the Hornets with 24 points while Rozier and LaMelo Bell scored 23 points apiece. Ball also had eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also liked the play of Hayward, who scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
“I thought Gordon was terrific at both ends of the floor,” Clifford said. “He played such a good all-around game. … It’s hard to win on the road. We’re 2-2 on the trip, which is good. Hopefully, we can build on that.”
Portland is returning home from a 2-4 road trip in which it dropped its last three games.
The Trail Blazers lost a pair of games to the Oklahoma City Thunder before finishing the trip with a 120-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Lillard was not pleased with the team’s performance on the excursion.
“I think we underachieved,” Lillard said after the loss to Denver. “I thought this game was really important because if you walk away from it .500 going back home, couple tough losses, you don’t have the success that you wanted to have on this trip but you’ll take .500 given the circumstances.
“But I think going back 2-4 is like — missed opportunity. I feel like we underachieved, we could have walked away from this with a much better end of it.”
The Trail Blazers were outscored 35-16 in the third quarter to trail by 13 points and the Nuggets extinguished their attempts to get back in the game in the final stanza.
Coach Chauncey Billups is frustrated with the in-game inconsistency of his squad.
“We have these really good stretches in all these games and it’s hard for us to sustain,” Billups said. “It’s been an issue for us, it really has. I’ll spend the next few days, even though it’s Christmas, trying to figure it out. I can’t put my finger on it right now.”
Lillard had 34 points and eight assists to continue his strong month. Lillard is averaging 29.9 points and 7.2 assists in 10 games since returning from a calf injury.
Lillard contributed 26 points and seven assists when Portland posted a 105-95 victory in Charlotte on Nov. 9. Ball missed that contest with a left ankle injury.
The Hornets are reportedly working toward a deal with restricted free agent Miles Bridges, who averaged a team-high 20.2 points last season in his fourth campaign with the team. Once Bridges signs, he will likely receive a league suspension after recently pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge.
–Field Level Media