The Charlotte Hornets had the buzzer go their way in tonight's victory over the New York Knicks. In a game that was very fitting of the idea that basketball is a game of runs, the Hornets and Knicks went at each other in a contest where nobody ever went too far ahead. If someone took a 10 point lead then the other called a timeout and grabbed that lead right back. It wasn't a perfectly played game, but it was certainly a fun one.
The Hornets started off rough, only scoring 18 points in the first half, but their bench stepped up big in the second quarter giving the Hornets a much needed lead. This was an indicator of how the night was going to go as Charlotte's bench managed to step up every time they were needed, and had a clear advantage over the Knicks second unit. If it hadn't been for the strong play of the bench then Charlotte may have not managed to pull this one out.
Part of why the Hornets had to rely so strongly on their bench was the not so outstanding play from their starting unit. Three of the Hornets five starters only made two shots from the field, and they struggled to contain Carmelo Anthony in the third quarter as he went off for 15 points on eight shots. This play of Anthony's gave the Knicks a 10 point lead at the end of the quarter, and made Steve Clifford decide that he was going to run on his bench players to finish the game.
The fourth quarter was more of the same with Charlotte's second unit outplaying New York's, but what changed was when the Knicks brought their starters back in the Hornets kept most of their's on the bench. The only player to come back on the floor was Nicolas Batum, and Marvin Williams later on in the quarter. They happened to be the only starters that were playing well, and Batum in particular finished the night with a season high 24 points. Those two, along with Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb, and Cody Zeller finished out most of the game.
The Hornets had a huge quarter thanks to the incredible play of Jeremy Lin. Finishing with 17 points on 11 shots, Lin had fans shouting Linsanity as he took over the game late with a nice mix of scoring and passing. His ability to penetrate, and get to the middle of the floor, left the Knicks completely off guard and unsure of how to respond.
Thanks to Lin's play the Hornets found themselves in a tie game with little time remaining. After some incredible defense by Marvin Williams to force Carmelo Anthony into a bad shot, the Hornets had the ball with a chance to win the game. The result was a gorgeous play drawn up by Clifford.
Watch as he pulls Robin Lopez away from Zeller with that quick move towards the rim. Lin then immediately turns back the other direction, and Zeller uses Lopez being off balance to make his run. A wide open passing lane for Spencer Hawes allows him to hit Zeller for the layup, and the eventual win.
What's crazy about this is that it almost didn't matter at all. Immediately after this play, Kristaps Porzingis hit this shot all the way from Durham to supposedly steal the game back.
(h/t Zach Harper)
Unfortunately for him, the shot was a little too late and the Hornets escaped with their fourth win in five games.