The Charlotte Hornets overcame an 18 point third quarter deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-106. Dwight Howard led the Hornets with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Khris Middleton led all scorers with 31 points.
It was a close first quarter, with the Hornets leading at the onset before the Bucks took a small lead. Charlotte was able to re-take it though late, and lead by one at the end of the first.
The second quarter was also close, as neither team was able to break away. It wouldn’t be until the 3rd quarter when the Bucks pulled away. They went up by 18 at one point, and Charlotte appeared to have no energy or will to mount a comeback. But following a timeout, the team scored six quick points, and then Treveon Graham got hot, knocking down a couple of 3-pointers and pulling the Hornets within five.
The game was tight well into the fourth quarter, with Milwaukee maintaining their lead. Howard tied the game at 97-97 after converting a traditional three point play, then Marvin Williams knocked down a couple of free throws to put them up by two.
Charlotte maintained a one possession lead for the next couple of minutes until Walker knocked down a 3-pointer under two minutes to put them up by four. But the Bucks closed within two points, and had a chance to tie or win it with around 19 seconds remaining. The ball went to Middleton, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played stellar on-ball defense and forced him into a missed mid-range shot. It came down to making free throws at that point, and the Hornets converted.
This game looked over mid-way through the quarter. The Hornets looked defeated as Milwaukee played with more determination and energy. The quick six points helped, and then Graham was huge, making the majority of his 14 points as the Hornets erased the deficit. The team suddenly looked full of life again, and did enough in the fourth quarter to force the win.
Along with Howard, the Hornets got solid performances from Walker (19 points, eight assists), Graham, and Frank Kaminsky (14 points, 2-for-3 from behind the arc). Jeremy Lamb also hit a few clutch buckets at various points, and finished with 13.
Charlotte moves to 12-21 as they hit the Christmas break. It’s a needed one for the team, and for all of us. This season has gone far short of our expectations and doesn’t appear to be moving in the right direction despite the win tonight. That said, we can enjoy it for what it’s worth, and hope they can build some momentum heading into the New Year.