1.8 seconds left. Hornet’s ball, down 125-122. Kemba Walker wrangles free through multiple defenders through force of will and grabs the inbounds pass, out of position, 26 feet away from the basket. Two defenders suffocate him, he turns, rises, fires. Wet.
Wait, what happened?
The Charlotte Hornets, out of time and resolve, finally succumbed to the unassailable hero-ball offensive genius of Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night, with Walker failing to hit that super-high-degree-of-difficulty-for-people-who-arent-Kemba-Walker three pointer as time expired in the overtime of what might have been the most exciting, intense game the Hornets have played all season.
Davis ended the game with 46 points and 21 rebounds for the Pelicans and was absolutely unconscious in the final minutes of the fourth quarter all the way through overtime.
Walker scored 24 points on the night, many of them coming down the stretch in an epic back and forth with Davis as they traded increasingly unbelievable hero-buckets in a thrilling battle that came down to the very last shot, leaving anyone who was watching with no doubt as to who the alpha-dogs on the court were.
Hornets fans have come to expect this from Kemba. The surprise hero though was once again Marvin Williams, who led the Hornets with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal and a block.
Williams improbably led all scorers in the first half with 20 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field and looked unstoppable; picking up right where he left off the previous night and forming what is arguably one of the most bizarre and unexpected mini-streaks across the league this year.
On Friday night, Williams grabbed a career high 18 rebounds against Orlando, a feat that was almost entirely forgotten about after the 12 year veteran treated Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo with the highest possible amount of disrespect one man can bestow upon another through a dunk.
Nicolas Batum scored 24 points, hitting several big buckets in the fourth quarter to keep the Hornets in the game.
While Davis carried the Pelicans down the stretch, the other half of New Orleans newly formed and highly publicized twin tower attack, DeMarcus Cousins, sat on the bench with 5 fouls. He finished the night with 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, but for all intents and purposes was a non-factor in the game.
Yes, the Hornets lost yet another close game. That is certainly a troubling trend to keep an eye on going forward. But for this one game, I have to give the team a pass.
I’ve made peace with this season. The foundation of this squad, when healthy, is very good. They play as a unit and get the most out of each other through Clifford’s system. We’ve got the bones of something good here.
But more importantly, they are fun. Tonight we saw the same team that surprised the entire league over the first quarter of the season. That team is fun. Its been a long time since I could describe a Hornets team like that. And for right now, that’s enough for me.