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Bouknight scores 20 points as Hornets win preseason opener

Rookie first-round pick leads Charlotte in scoring in his NBA debut
Credit: AP
Charlotte Hornets guard James Bouknight (5) passes in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, right, in the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Terry Rozier owes James Bouknight some money.

Rozier told the Charlotte Hornets rookie if he scored 20 points, he'd fork over some cash.

The team's first-round pick did exactly that, leading the team in scoring as they beat Oklahoma City 113-97 on the road to begin the preseason.

Bouknight's coach was also impressed.

"I want to see that continue to blossom," James Borrego said. "I thought tonight he took a step forward. He played with great poise and confidence."

Charlotte played solid basketball, especially among the regulars in the first three quarters.

LaMelo Ball scored 15 points, adding 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals to the stat sheet.

P.J. Washington scored 14, and Miles Bridges (13), Jalen McDaniels (12) and Rozier (11) each hit double digits.

Bridges was in Borrego's starting lineup, which could be a sign of things to come for the season, as Washington came off the bench.

Bridges made 19 starts in 2020-21, including 17 of his final 18 appearances of the season.

"I wouldn't want to play for any other team," Bridges said. "I love this team. I think we can do something big this year."

Kelly Oubre Jr. left the game in the third quarter with a lower right leg strain after a hard fall, but Borrego said afterwards the injury wasn't serious and Oubre is considered "day-to-day" to return.

The Hornets will play their first home preseason game on Thursday against Memphis.

Charlotte opens the regular season at home, Wednesday, Oct. 20 against Indiana.

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