Jones has first career double-double in the NBA
It was a significant night for Bahamian post player Kai Jones as he scored a career-high 12 points and pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds on Tuesday, recording his first double-double in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and helping his team, the Charlotte Hornets, record a 137-134 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Playing on the road at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Jones led his team in rebounds and they collectively played the role of spoiler to the Thunder who are looking to advance to the NBA playoffs. They have a 37-39 win/loss record, tied for 10th in the Western Conference of the NBA. The Hornets have already been eliminated. They have a 25-51 record. However, they have been a thorn in the side of playoff contenders. They are coming off two wins over the Dallas Mavericks prior to their win over the Thunder.
Jones came off the bench and played 22 minutes in which he made the most of it by going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and making two out of three free throws. Three of his field goals were slam dunks. The NBA sophomore also had one assist and stayed grounded as he did not commit a single foul. He had 11 defensive rebounds and three offensive rebounds and a plus-minus of plus 17.
Jones did most of his damage in the first half, going 3-for-3 from the field. He made both of his free throws in that half and scored eight points. He also had five rebounds in that half. He played six minutes in the fourth quarter and crashed the boards again, finishing with five rebounds in the fourth.
The Hornets were led by P.J. Washington who had 22 points in the fourth quarter to finish with a career-high 43. Isaiah Joe led the Thunder with 33 points.
The game had eight ties and eight lead changes. The Thunder held a 68-57 lead at halftime, but the Hornets got back in the game. They kept trying to cut into the lead in the third quarter. They got it down to six points with 4:24 left in the third quarter, 88-82. The Thunder extended their lead to as much as nine points before the Hornets were able to bring it down back to six, ending the quarter down, 99-93.
The Hornets got off to a great start in the fourth quarter as they went on a 16-2 scoring run, enabling them to take a 109-101 lead with 8:44 left in the game. That eventually ballooned to a double-digit lead as JT Thor put the Hornets up 117-107 with seven minutes left. The Thunder came back, tying the game at 129 with 2:08 left. It was a nailbiter the rest of the way but the Thunder had some poor free throw shooting, and the Hornets were able to hold on for the victory.
The 6’11” big man is seeing the court more in March, averaging 15.2 minutes per game and he was featured in 12 games. He is averaging 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in March as the Hornets give their younger players an opportunity with the season winding down. This season, Jones has played in 41 games and is averaging 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per game.
The Hornets are riding a three-game winning streak and return home to take on the Chicago Bulls (36-39) at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, at 7 p.m. on Friday.