CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — Terry Rozier scored 31 points and the Charlotte Hornets defeated San Antonio 123-117 on Saturday night, giving Spurs coach Gregg Popovich an NBA-record-breaking win.
San Antonio has lost four straight games since beating Washington on Feb. 25 to put Popovich in one of Don Nelson’s record 1,335 regular-season wins.
LaMelo Ball added 24 points for Charlotte, PJ Washington and Montrezl Harrell each had 15, and Mason Plumlee had 13 rebounds. The Hornets made their last 17 free throws.
“We take every win with us,” said Rozier. “We don’t care if it’s a half point, that’s the main goal we want to achieve at the end of the evening. So whatever it takes.”
Keldon Johnson led San Antonio with 33 points but was limited to five in the second half. Dejounte Murray had 25 points and 10 assists and Devin Vassell added 14 points.
“They played hard enough to win,” Popovich said of his team losing the lead in the dwindling seconds of the third and fourth periods. “They fought hard enough to win. Quarters are still a learning situation for us.”
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Ball gave Charlotte a 117-113 lead with two free throws with 55.5 seconds remaining. Murray’s layup drew San Antonio to 119-117 before Martin hit four fouls in the last 33.6 on two trips to the line.
“I thought we finished at least one rebound,” said Hornets coach James Borrego. “Cody had a huge rebound at the end to seal that game but we had a couple of slips there. We need to put body on body and it could have cost us again but we are lucky to have won.”
With Charlotte leading 115-111, Plumlee battled Jakob Poeltl for a rebound. The two completed the ball, and Plumlee threw Poeltl to the ground to control the ball. Officials ruled it was a jump ball and not a foul on Plumlee.
“They definitely increased the intensity and made it harder for us to hit shots that we normally hit,” Johnson said. “So we’re going to keep grinding and we’re going to get ready now and be ready to go on Monday.”
Popovich acknowledged the long journey it took Dejounte Murray from No. 1 to top scorer in 2016 after a year at the University of Washington, including a cruciate ligament tear in 2019.
“He didn’t spend a lot of time in college like a lot of these guys do these days, and he had a lot of catching up to do,” Popovich said. “He got injured a bit and missed a lot of time, but through all of that he’s really matured to the point where he made the biggest leap forward this year when he took over the team.”
Murray finished Saturday with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
San Antonio: Johnson was perfect in the first half, making all seven shots — two of them 3 points — and his only free throws. He had 17 of Spurs’ 30 points.
Charlotte: Gordon Hayward missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Spurs: hosts the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
Hornets: host Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
This story has been corrected to show that the Hornets coach’s first name is James, not John, Borrego, and that Dejounte Murray had 10 assists, not 10 rebounds.
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