CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Miles Bridges had 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and the Charlotte Hornets beat the Indiana Pacers 111-102 on Monday night in NBA action to improve to 2-0 since the arrival of five new players through exchange.
Rookies Grant Williams, Seth Curry, Tre Mann and Vasilije Micic added offensive spark to the Hornets, who finished with 27 assists. Williams led the team with 21 points and Curry scored 18 off the bench. Mann started and finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Micic added a calming influence on offense and helped spur Charlotte's solid ball movement.
“We’re more experienced and a lot deeper, which, to be honest, is a great thing,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said.
-Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 13, 2024
The addition of Williams allowed the Hornets to play five games, which opened up lanes for Bridges, Mann and Micic.
The Hornets had 14 more with Williams on the court, who played 31 minutes.
“Miles had a great run in the fourth quarter and a lot of that was due to Grant being in the fifth,” Clifford said. “You have a lot more space on the floor. Miles made a great play, but if you have a traditional center, he probably won't be able to get to the basket.”
Myles Turner had 22 points and Aaron Nesmith scored 21 for the Pacers (30-25). Tyrese Haliburton scored 13 points and 12 rebounds while playing 34 minutes in the loss — his most action since returning from a hamstring injury.
Indiana's locker room was eerily quiet after the game, a sign of a team that knew it would allow it to escape one of the league's worst. Charlotte is 12-41 years old.
“At some point, as a group, we’re going to need to grow,” Haliburton said. “We have to mature as a group and win these games. We have one more game before the All-Star break and we have to approach this the right way.”
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle wasn't pleased with his team's approach or the rebounding margin — 46-32 in Charlotte's favor.
“We talked a lot about their negotiations, how they played two nights ago,” Carlisle said in reference to Chicago’s 115-106 win over Memphis. “They are clearly an energized team and we needed to match that, but we didn’t.”
Certainly not in the fourth quarter.
Charlotte held the NBA's highest-scoring team to just 22 points in the final 12 minutes, securing back-to-back victories for the second time this season.
The Hornets, who suffered from injuries this season, regained their strength after the trade.
Williams provided a great boost off the bench and physical presence, while Mann and Micic used their quickness off the dribble to create opportunities for their teammates.
Mann is finally getting a chance to play after spending much of his time on the bench in Oklahoma City watching and learning from more experienced players.
“There’s a lot less pressure knowing I can overcome mistakes,” Mann said.
The Hornets took an 81-80 lead into the fourth behind Curry, who built on the momentum by knocking down a 3 and scoring on a move in traffic late in the third quarter.
Charlotte kept attacking in the fourth and Brandon Miller's foul line jumper gave the Hornets a 103-95 lead with 2:47 remaining. Bridges added a hammer dunk over Turner on Charlotte's next possession, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Williams made four free throws in the final minute to help put the game away.
Charlotte shot 53.7% from the field and their bench outscored the Pacers 44-18.
Pacers: Visit Toronto on Wednesday night.
Hornets: Close out a three-game homestand Wednesday night against the Hawks.