CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Rookie PJ Washington erupted for 27 points on seven 3-pointers, and the Charlotte Hornets opened the post-Kemba Walker era with a thrilling come-from-behind 126-125 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
The Hornets made 23 3-pointers, the most in franchise history in a regulation game. Their record is 24, but that came in a double-overtime game.
Devonte Graham was a difference-maker off the bench with 23 points on 6-of-7 3-point shooting to go along with eight assists, while Marvin Williams had 17 points on five 3s.
Together, Washington, Graham and Williams were 18 of 25 from 3-point range, offsetting the Bulls’ 78 points in the paint.
Lauri Markkanen led the Bulls with 35 points and 17 rebounds. Chicago also got a strong game from their top draft pick Coby White, who had 17 points and seven assists in his NBA debut in his home state.
Washington, who wasn’t announced as a starter until 90 minutes before tipoff, hit 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in the first half and set a Hornets franchise record for most points by a rookie in a season opener.
Cody Zeller added 15 points and 12 rebounds for Charlotte.
Terry Rozier, Walker’s replacement, struggled in his Charlotte debut with seven points on 2-of-10 shooting and wasn’t even in the game in the final minute, instead replaced by the red-hot Graham.
The Hornets overcame a 10-point deficit with less than 6 minutes to play as Graham hit a pair of 3-pointers to ignite a rally. Graham also had two key free throws to put the Hornets up 3 late in the game.
Instead of going for a 3 to tie the game, Zach Lavine drove for a layup with 4 seconds left. The Hornets ran out the clock from there with the Bulls unable to foul.
Bulls: Outrebounded the Hornets 49-41. … Allowed the Hornets to shoot 52.3% from 3-point range.
Hornets: Coach James Borrego went with Rozier, Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Zeller and Washington as his starting five, a combination that has just 13 years of combined NBA experience. … The previous record for points by a Hornets rookie in a season opener was Emeka Okafor with 19. … Nic Batum left the game in the second half with a sprained hand.
Bulls: Visit the Grizzlies on Friday night.
Hornets: Host the Timberwolves on Friday night.
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