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Hornets fall to Hawks in overtime thriller 114 to 117

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In a preseason road back-to-back, also known as a coach's nightmare, the Hornets took on the Atlanta Hawks in Philips Arena. After being relatively owned by Atlanta last year, how did coach Clifford and the boys come through tonight?

No Al, Lance, Marvin, or Hendo?  Hahahhaha, OK.
No Al, Lance, Marvin, or Hendo? Hahahhaha, OK.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the then Charlotte Bobcats struggled with the Atlanta Hawks, a team many dubbed "Spurs East." Known under coach Mike Budenholzer, a Gregg Popovich disciple, for their passing and shooting, the Hawks were a rough match-up for the Bobcats. Last year Charlotte went 1-3 against Atlanta, with the only win coming in late April when the Hawks were missing Paul Milsap, Kyle Korver, Demarre Caroll, and Al Horford.

The game tonight was not broadcast, by anyone...so a lot of this analysis is going off stats and the radio broadcast, which was actually of high quality. The Hornets were without Al Jefferson, Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, and Gerald Henderson. While the Hawks had their full lineup available. However, the Hornets got the debut of Noah Vonleh, who had missed training camp and the previous preseason games due to a sports hernia.

Again the Hornets let the opposing team have it easy in the first half, with Atlanta shooting over 50 percent from the floor. The Hawks seemed to get it from Jeff Teague penetrating, nice play inside by Paul Milsap and Al Horford, and a crazy hot start from Mike Scott, the stretch four from the University of Virginia. The story of the first half for the Hornets was Cody Zeller, who made four of five long jumpers in the first half. Despite Cody's strong half, the Hornets were down 58-43.

The third quarter, the Hornets turned it around with nice play from Kemba Walker, Cody Zeller, Gary Neal (who had been super cold), and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (who was also cold early, but stayed aggressive). A bunch of great play, including nice ball movement (around 20 assists on 26 field goals), was enough to make it a 34-22 third quarter advantage. Oh, until PJ Hairston fouled a jump shooter with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.

Down five going into the fourth, the Hornets kept it close and got it down to four with 2:44 left to play, all without Walker, who spent the entire fourth on the bench.  After a flagrant foul by Kyle Korver on Biyombo (really?), two made free throws and a Neal jumper tied up the game at 101 apiece.  And then Cody Zeller missed what would have been the game winning free throw and the game went to overtime.

It was at this moment I first felt the pain of NBA beat writers, as I was praying for the end of this game, so that I could watch Monday Night Football.  Overtime was quick and unfortunately the Hornets lost.  Still being so shorthanded, this was a good showing from the Hornets, especially from Cody Zeller and Gary Neal.

Key takeaway: Noah Vonleh's debut.  18 minutes, 4 points on 2/5 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, four fouls, and three turnovers.  From what I could tell, it went about as I would have expected.  He got hustle stats but struggled defending when paired up against Mike Scott and also had trouble adjusting to the speed of the NBA game.

Up Next: Coach Clifford and company get a little break as their next game isn't until Thursday, at home against the Indiana Pacers.

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