CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points, Dwight Howard had another double-double and the Charlotte Hornets used a record-setting first half to beat the Washington Wizards 133-109 on Wednesday night in coach Steve Clifford’s return.
The Hornets made 12 of their first 13 shots and scored a franchise-record 77 points in the first half to build a 16-point lead. They extended that to 28 in the second half in a game that was never close.
Kemba Walker had 19 points, Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Jeremy Lamb had 16 points for the Hornets, who won for the fifth time in their last seven games.
Clifford returned after missing 21 games because of headaches caused by sleep deprivation . The Hornets were 9-21 in Clifford’s absence and had fallen eight games under .500.
Bradley Beal had 26 points for the Wizards, whose five-game road trip got off to a rocky start.
The Hornets shot 65 percent from the field in the first half, including a pair of four-point plays from Walker and Marvin Williams.
Charlotte’s Michael Carter-Williams and Washington’s Tim Frazier were ejected and given double technical fouls after an altercation with four minutes remaining in the game.
It started when Jason Smith fouled Carter-Williams, who went to retaliate before Frazier stepped in the middle. With the Wizards down by 20, coach Scott Brooks elected to have Howard, a 52 percent free-throw shooter, come off the bench to shoot Carter-Williams’ free throws.
Howard, clearly irritated over the move since he’d been sitting out the entire fourth quarter because of the big lead, promptly sank both free throws. He looked over at the Wizards bench and raised his palms incredulously as if to say, ”Why?”
Clifford quickly removed Howard from the game.
The teams played in front a sparse crowd because of the wintry weather that has gripped Charlotte, which led to most schools being closed. Across town, the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League played a game closed off to fans because of the wintry mix.
Wizards: Have allowed at least 100 points in 16 straight games. … Were outscored 50-30 in the paint.
Hornets: The 10 straight field goals made to start the game are the most to start a game since 2002-03. … Howard recorded his 691st double-double and 25th this season. … With a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter, Hornets fans started chanting ”We want (Malik) Monk.” Clifford put the rookie in with four minutes to play and he hit a 3-pointer.
Wizards: Visit Detroit on Friday.
Hornets: Host Miami on Saturday.
More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
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