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Today: May 28, 2024

Steve Clifford wins his final game as Charlotte coach, Hornets beat playoff-bound Cleveland 120-110

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LA Post: Steve Clifford wins his final game as Charlotte coach, Hornets beat playoff-bound Cleveland 120-110
April 14, 2024
BRIAN DULIK - AP

CLEVELAND (AP) — Nick Smith Jr. scored a season-high 24 points and Steve Clifford won his coaching farewell as the Charlotte Hornets rallied to beat the playoff-bound Cleveland Cavaliers 120-110 on Sunday.

Max Strus had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for his first career triple-double for Cleveland, which rested All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, point guard Darius Garland and sixth man Caris LeVert.

The Cavaliers will have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but left the floor without knowing their opponent. They lost 12 of their final 19 regular-season games to finish 48-34.

Georges Niang scored 16 points, Jarrett Allen posted 14 points and seven rebounds, and Evan Mobley had 14 points for Cleveland. Niang became the first Cavaliers player to appear in all 82 games since LeBron James in 2017-2018.

The 62-year-old Clifford, who will likely remain with the franchise as an advisor, has spent seven total seasons with Charlotte, including the past two, and is its career leader in games coached (574) and wins (244).

JT Thor had a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who finished with the third-worst record in the East at 21-61. Bryce McGowens added 18 points and Marques Bolden scored 14.

Cavaliers forward Pete Nance — the son of former All-Star Larry Nance and brother of Pelicans center Larry Nance Jr. — made a 3-pointer for his first points in the NBA. Rookie point guard Craig Porter Jr. sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and did not return.

Hornets small forward Brandon Miller, who ranks second among NBA rookies with a 17.3 scoring average, did not play because of a right wrist sprain. Power forward Miles Bridges was not in uniform with a bruised right wrist.

UP NEXT

Hornets: NBA draft lottery on May 12.

Cavaliers: Host a playoff game on either April 20 or 21.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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