OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — P.J. Washington scored 22 of his career-high 43 points in the fourth quarter, and the Charlotte Hornets rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 137-134 on Tuesday night for their third straight win.
Three Thunder players scored career highs — Isaiah Joe with 33 points and Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams with 31 each. But Williams and Giddey each missed one of two free throws in the final 16 seconds, and Williams missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
It was a potentially costly loss for Oklahoma City. The Thunder were looking to strengthen their position in the Western Conference play-in race despite being short-handed. Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered the day fourth in the league averaging 31.3 points per game, sat out with a sprained left ankle.
Charlotte was short-handed, too. Terry Rozier (right foot discomfort) and Kelly Oubre (strained right shoulder) sat out for the third straight game and Dennis Smith (sprained right toe) also did not play.
The Hornets were coming off two wins over the Dallas Mavericks, who also need victories to get into the Western Conference playoffs.
Joe hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the second quarter to give the Thunder a 68-57 lead.
Oklahoma City took a 99-93 lead into the fourth, but the Hornets battled back. Former Thunder guard Theo Maledon scored, was fouled and made the free throw to put Charlotte ahead, 104-103, with just under 10 minutes to play.
Maledon hit a 3-pointer with six minutes left to give Charlotte a 123-110 lead. The Thunder responded with a 7-0 run, with six of the points coming from Lu Dort, to stay in the game. Oklahoma City tied the game at 129 on an acrobatic layup by Williams with just over two minutes to play, and it was close the rest of the way.
Hornets: Maledon got his second start of the season. He finished with 19 points and nine assists. … Nick Richards had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Kai Jones added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Thunder: G Lindy Waters (left foot plantar fasciitis) sat out. … Giddey scored 11 points in the first quarter. … F Aleksej Pokusevski returned after a leg injury, playing for the Thunder for the first time since Dec. 27. He went scoreless in 10 minutes.
Hornets: Host the Chicago Bulls on Friday.
Thunder: Host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.