Eric Bledsoe dropped 24 points to lead New Orleans, which moved to 31-37 on the season. The Pelicans are chasing the 32-35 San Antonio Spurs for the final spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament.
For the Hornets, who are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, Terry Rozier logged his first 30-point game since April 18, ending the night with 43 points.
- Eric Bledsoe, Pelicans: 24 PTS, 11 AST
- Jaxson Hayes, Pelicans: 18 PTS, 8 REB, 6 BLK
- Terry Rozier, Hornets: 43 PTS, 5 REB
- LaMelo Ball, Hornets: 23 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB
Pelicans Battle Back in Balanced Effort
The Pelicans lost their two strongest stars at the worst time, as Zion Williamson is out indefinitely with a finger fracture and Brandon Ingram has missed two straight games with an ankle injury.
They held their own with the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers in both players' absences on Friday, falling by two. James Johnson and Naji Marshall got the start, though the bench players were what kept the Pelicans in it.
On Sunday, a balanced effort led the Pelicans to victory even after the Hornets ran away in the second quarter.
A high-energy New Orleans team ran away with a 10-point lead after a slow 5-5 open for both teams.
The Hornets came charging back to get within nine after the first quarter, with an impressive 10 assists. The majority of those came from Eric Bledsoe, who ended the first 12 minutes with 13 points and five assists.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker's Hail Mary at the buzzer punctuated a hot start for the Pelicans.
But it didn't hold, as the Hornets—and namely Terry Rozier—pulled together a major second quarter that resulted in a 20-point swing. Bledsoe was held scoreless in the frame, and Jaxson Hayes and Marshall added points to keep the Pelicans from falling out completely.
The Pelicans ended the half with the advantage in field goal percentage, going 47.1 from the field compared to 43.9 from Charlotte, but they got beat from deep and from the line, where Charlotte was an impressive 10-of-10.
They were also out-rebounded and gave up 14 points off of seven turnovers.
They continued to hold that shooting advantage after the break, improving to more than 50 percent from the field while chipping away at the Hornets' lead. They cut it to two points before four minutes were gone, but still trailed by seven heading into the final frame.
Bledsoe had logged 24 points by then, but he could have been worth even more for the trailing Pelicans. He was just five-of-10 from the line, a crucial number for a group that was down by a single-digit deficit.
The Pelicans, who needed all the bodies they could get, were down another one early in the fourth when Wes Iwundu was ejected after picking up his second technical foul.
After a 10-2 run to start the fourth, it was free throws that eventually gave the Pelicans the lead with 8:35 left to play, going up 99-98 on a Hayes make. But it didn't last thanks to another shot from Rozier, and the teams went back and forth nearly to the buzzer.
Hayes gave the Hornets the lead at the end, capping a career night that saw him post six blocks and 18 points off the bench.
Terry Rozier's Strong Second Leads Hornets
After both teams opened at 5-5, the Pelicans went on a 10-0 run early as the Hornets were ice cold shooting against a fast-moving New Orleans group.
But after the scare, PJ Washington finally made his first shot in nine attempts, and the Hornets got back within it.
Terry Rozier, whose hot shooting night guided the Hornets past the Orlando Magic on Friday, led Charlotte starters with six points on three-of-five shooting, but it was Cody Zeller who impressed in five minutes off of the bench. He went three-of-four from the field with three makes from the line, with nine points to lead the team.
While those players had enough production keep Charlotte in it, the team was a miserable 2-of-13 from deep.
They reevaluated heading into the second quarter, and after keeping pace, Rozier gave the team their first lead of the game with 5:39 left in the half with a three. It was fitting, as his huge second quarter was what put the team back in the fight. His quiet first quarter turned into 24 points by the half.
By the break, the Hornets managed to turn their 10-point deficit into a 10-point lead by way of a 42-point second quarter.
The Pelicans picked up steam to start the third, but the Hornets maintained the lead even when LaMelo Ball checked out of the game and was attended to by trainers after hitting his wrist on the backboard after a block attempt. He returned, and the Hornets charged into the final frame with a seven-point advantage.
The lead evaporated as the Hornets failed to make a shot during the first six minutes of the fourth, and they went shot-for-shot briefly until the Pelicans pulled away.
The Pelicans will head to Memphis for the second leg of a back-to-back, tipping against the Grizzlies at 8 p.m. ET.
Charlotte will host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.