Josh Giddey’s career-best night in scoring was not enough to lead the Thunder to victory, with the struggling side falling to the Charlotte Hornets in a 23-point loss.
Terry Rozier scored 24 points, Miles Bridges added 22 points and 14 rebounds, as the Hornets defeated OKC 121-98.
Giddey for the first time this season in his rookie campaign, notched at least 20 points.
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The 19-year-old Australian finished 21 points on 59 per cent field goal shooting while adding nine rebounds and three assists.
Meanwhile, PJ Washington scored 20 and Gordon Hayward 16 for Charlotte, which has won seven of eight. LaMelo Ball finished with 10 points for the Hornets.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 29 points, but was held to four in the second half. Giddey’s teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl also notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“Shai does a great job,” Bridges said. “He’s one of the best in the league at getting to the rim, so we knew he was going to get his buckets. We wanted to stop all the other guys from doing what they do.”
After Oklahoma City cut Charlotte’s lead to 82-73 on Robinson-Earl’s 3-pointer with 4:06 to play in the third, Charlotte pushed her lead to a game-high 25 on a 3-pointer by Bridges.
“That was what we talked about at halftime was slowing them down in transition,” Giddey said of the Thunder’s performance, in which they kept Charlotte close in the final three quarters after a lopsided first.
“They get out and run, small ball lineups,” Giddey added. “And in the first half, they did that.”
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Charlotte’s only loss in the past eight games has been to Orlando, last in the Eastern Conference. Facing another team out of playoff contention, the Hornets trailed 2-0 but did not relinquish the lead after taking it back early.
Charlotte pushed its lead to 46-27 on Washington’s 3-pointer midway through the second period. The Hornets maintained a lead around 20 points despite Ball picking up his third foul with 5:47 to play in the first half.
“I took my hair out and just started shooting better,” Washington said of his second-half hairstyle change and scoring surge. “It just started falling.”
Charlotte led throughout the first period, with Oklahoma City coming within one at 13-12 on Giddey’s basket. But the Hornets closed the period on a 24-8 run to take a 37-20 lead.
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