Tonight's matchup between the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards was one of those games where, after it's finished, it leaves viewers sitting back and reflecting on what they just watched. Perhaps it had to do with both teams being evenly matched, or maybe the lack of consistency that has plagued both their seasons is what led to such an incredible contest, but whatever caused it fans were more than lucky to witness it.
The Hornets started off the game rough once again, but once they kicked things into gear they put together a pretty solid first quarter. Where the game really got interesting was the second quarter when Charlotte played some horrid basketball. The second unit came in and once again they couldn't deliver with Washington jumping out to a gigantic lead. If it wasn't for a flurry of Nicolas Batum three pointers at the end of the first half this game might have gone the complete other direction.
Coming into the second half down 10 the Hornets looked to Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker to get them back in the game. Walker delivered like he has so much this season, scoring eight of his 23 points in the third quarter, and contributing in other areas with five assists and rebounds including a steal. The real star of the game though was Batum. Not only did he score 26 points, but he pulled down 11 rebounds with nine assists, a steal, and one block. Batum was all over the floor tonight and his contributions were well represented in the box score. During rough patches of the game it was Batum that carried them.
Despite those two's efforts, Charlotte still found themselves in a close fight late in the game. Like the superstar he is, John Wall took over late and willed Washington back into the game anytime Charlotte pulled ahead. Wall's ability with the basketball is still unreal to watch. He drives into the lane with such ease, and then he has a deadly shooter like Bradley Beal right next to him. The Wizards have been conserving Beal's minutes due to a long term injury that still plagues him, and it's scary to think what he could have done tonight if he had been playing the entire game.
With Charlotte in a close one they turned to not Walker or Batum, but Jeremy Lin. His stat line might not wow anybody, but two of his three makes were the two biggest shots of the game. First, a layup to give the Hornets a small lead, and then a clutch 3-pointer from the corner to put the Hornets up four. There were some dramatics with free throws afterwards, but that shot ended up as the eventual game winner with Charlotte barely pulling out a win.
Tonight's game had everything. A thrilling back and forth effort between two teams led by their stars, and a game winner at the end to decide it all. It's exactly what any basketball fan would want, and it's what we got.