Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points as the Charlotte Hornets welcomed the return of coach Steve Clifford to the bench with some record offense in a 133-109 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.
The Hornets made their first 10 shots from the field, the best stretch to start a game for the franchise in 15 years. That led to a franchise-record 77 first-half points.
Kemba Walker’s 19 points and Dwight Howard’s 18 points and 15 rebounds also gave the Hornets, who played in the opener of a five-game homestand, a lift. They picked up 16 points from Jeremy Lamb, 14 points from Frank Kaminsky, who has been hampered by an ankle injury, 12 points from Marvin Williams and 11 from Nic Batum.
Bradley Beal poured in 26 points and reserve Mike Scott racked up 18 points for the Wizards. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 16 points, and John Wall added 12 points and nine assists.
The Hornets shot 49 percent (48-for-98) from the field, hitting their season-high point total in the final minute on rookie Malik Monk’s 3-pointer on his only basket on five attempts.
Charlotte’s starting backcourt of Kidd-Gilchrist, Walker and Batum combined to shoot 18-for-34.
Clifford, 56, missed 21 games across five weeks because of severe headaches associated with sleep deprivation. He conducted the Tuesday practice session before returning to game-night activities.
Charlotte’s early hot shooting led to 38 first-quarter points, the team’s most at home this season despite five turnovers. The Hornets led 77-61 at halftime behind 66 percent shooting from the field.
Walker had 16 points at the break.
Despite the Hornets’ big early offense, the Wizards were 8-for-10 on 3-pointers in the first half compared to Charlotte’s 7-for-14 long-range mark.
Beal poured in 20 points in the opening half, aided by four 3-pointers.
Midway through the second half, the Hornets built their advantage to 86-68, and then it quickly grew to 98-72.
With four minutes remaining, Charlotte’s Michael Carter-Williams and Washington’s Tim Frazier were ejected following an altercation that began in the lane.
—Field Level Media