Malik Monk completes a 3-point play in last second to lead Hornets past Kings

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Rick Bonnell
·3 min read
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Malik Monk completed a 3-point play by hitting a free throw with 1.4 seconds left to give the Charlotte Hornets a 127-126 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

P.J. Washington scored a career-high 42 points on a night the Hornets were missing three of their top seven players.

“He’s a fighter. He showed no fear on that play. He tried to dunk it, but he got the and-one,” Washington said of Monk’s winning play at the end.

“We were down the whole game. It feels great,” Washington added.

Rookie LaMelo Ball finished with 24 points and 12 assists.

Kings guard Buddy Hield finished with 30 points.

Observations off the game:

P.J. Washington’s big first half

Washington’s 22 first-half points were so needed with the Hornets’ depleted scoring options. Washington was really effective both in drives and pick-and-rolls.

Washington has acknowledged he’s having an inconsistent second NBA season. In the first half Sunday, he made nine of 15 shots from the field in the first half and was 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

LaMelo Ball’s free throws

One good measure of a player’s offensive efficiency is free-throw attempts; does the opposing team have no choice but to foul when that player attacks with the ball.

Rookie LaMelo Ball took eight free throws in the first half, which was one short of his prior high for a game.

Zeller and Hayward both missed this game

The Hornets ruled out starters Gordon Hayward (hand contusion) and Cody Zeller (hip contusion). They were already without Devonte Graham, who has now missed five consecutive games with soreness around his left knee cap.

Hayward is obviously a big loss, as the Hornets’ leading scorer at 21.5 points per game. Zeller starts at center and the depth there is a big issue, particularly after the Hornets gave up a season-high 72 points in the lane without Zeller to the Golden State Warriors.

Coach James Borrego hopes to have Zeller back for Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers, or at least Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the last game before All-Star break.

First start for Jalen McDaniels

Second-season forward Jalen McDaniels got his first NBA start against the Kings with Hayward out. His ability to play either forward spot and center at 6-foot-10 is appealing in a situation like this, with the Hornets having only nine players available Sunday.

However, McDaniels made a bad mental error in the first half, attempting to in-bound the ball after a Sacramento basket without establishing his feet out of bounds. He was leaping over the baseline with the ball. That’s a violation and a silly turnover.

Caleb Martin back from protocols

Reserve forward Caleb Martin was out the past two weeks, going through COVID-19 related protocols. The NBA cleared him to play Sunday.

It was indicative of how shorthanded the Hornets were that Borrego played Caleb Martin after such a long absence.