The Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings arguably played game of the year last night in an absolute thriller from start to finish. The Hornets went bonkers from 3-point range in the second half, and DeMarcus Cousins tried to single handedly win the game for Sacramento with a 56 point performance that probably would have gone for 60 if he had not fouled out.
The moment that changed the entire course of the game was halftime. The entire first half Cousins dominated an injured and overmatched Hornets front line that lacked the size or strength necessary to contain Cousins. On the other hand, the Hornets were creating open 3-pointers and hitting them with a frequency that indicated they wouldn't go down easily. The Kings bench was completely overmatched by Charlotte's offensive firepower, and it looked like that would be the deciding factor in the Hornets getting a win. However, Cousins was too strong and the Hornets were down 10 at the half.
The halftime adjustments Steve Clifford made completely changed the game for Charlotte. Not only did they figure out Sacramento's defensive gameplan, and completely exploited it, but they came up with a new plan of their own. To counter the lack of size going up against Cousins, when he would post up the man guarding him was tasked with facing him up. This way, the Kings would throw behind the defender to Cousins, and then the big on the other side of the floor would come over and play help. This forced Cousins to either shoot over top of a defender, or kick out to someone on the perimeter. It slowed him down just enough, and gave the Hornets a gameplan of letting Cousins get his points while forcing the rest of Sacramento to beat them.
And the Kings did almost beat them. Despite the new defense Cousins still was an unstoppable force that left the Hornets clinging on to a lead for dear life. In fact, the way the Hornets were shooting, Charlotte would have probably won this one handily if it hadn't been for Cousins monster performance.
Then, to top everything off, Troy Daniels tops off a career high in points with an incredible game winner from so far deep that he may as well have been shooting from Santa Clara, California.
Put this under your pillow. Sleep well Hornets fans. All HAIL the teal and purple! pic.twitter.com/kkXeGPhHqf— Hive Talk Live (@HiveTalkLive) January 26, 2016
This was one of those games that creates new basketball fans. A back and forth effort from both teams, with an incredible individual effort, topped off by a game winning 3-pointer. At the end of the season there's gonna be debates on what was game of the year, and we would be mistaken to not put this one in the running. What a game.
Notes and Observations
This game showed how deep the Hornets roster can go when things are clicking for them. Everybody played well tonight, and they pulled off a huge win despite being short handed. Hopefully they can get healthy soon, and maybe not play so many overtimes the rest of this road trip.
Spencer Hawes and Sacramento have never once gotten along, and neither are too fond of the other. Hawes dropped 18 on his former team tonight, and egged on the crowd every chance got. The Hornets got a villain on their team.
Jeremy Lin played over 50 minutes tonight which led the team. There's no real analysis here just wanted to point out how incredibly absurd that is. Props to Lin for hanging in there till the end. Many other players legs would have turned to dust from all the running.
DeMarcus Cousins has scored over 100 points in his last two games, and easily would have reached 60 tonight if the refs hadn't made an atrocious call that led to the big man fouling out. With how tired the Hornets legs were in that second overtime they might want to send the refs a gift basket.
Speaking of the refs, they were so bad in the second overtime that they almost ruined what had been a close to perfect game before they stepped in. It's sad that such an incredible game was almost ruined, but Troy Daniels shot managed to save it.
The Hornets started off the second half with seven straight 3-pointers, and dropped 42 in a quarter. They still needed two overtimes to win, because Cousins was just that good.
The last time Daniels had that much fire shooting out of his hands he was winning a playoff game for the Houston Rockets. If there's one good thing that's come from this spell of injuries it's that Daniels has arguably played his way into the future rotation.