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Hornets test Cavs but fall short late, 112-105

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A valiant effort but a miserable loss, the Hornets gave the Cavs a scare Friday night. The playoffs are slowly becoming little more than a dream.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets whittled a 12-point deficit down to one point with four minutes left in the game but failed to push through, losing 112-105 to the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night.

The Cavs ended the quarter on a 12-6 run, stopping the 12-1 run that got the Hornets back into the game. LeBron James had eight points, a block, and a steal in those final few minutes. He finished the game a rebound shy of a triple-double — 32 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists.

The Hornets came to play Friday night, never allowing the deficit to grow larger than 12 and even getting a seven-point lead early in the game.

Kemba Walker took pride in his matchup with Kyrie Irving. The two were smiling and jawing off all night, trading baskets and I-told-you-so stares seemingly every few possessions. Kemba narrowly won that battle, outscoring Irving 28 to 26.

The Cavs planned well for him, electing to trap him when bigs set picks. Kemba soon picked up on this, however, and began to try to split the incoming double. Mixed results, there. A couple of turnovers but some absolutely brilliant highlight plays, too.

Nicolas Batum played fairly well too — finishing with 19 points, two rebounds, two assists, and three steals — but he also played a major role in several of the Hornets’ not-so-great plays late in the game. At one point, he passed up a wide open — and I mean WIDE open — 3-pointer for a dish to Marvin Williams under the rim, whom was surrounded by three Cavs.

LeBron blocked Marv’s layup attempt.

Speaking of Marv, dude played 38 minutes Friday night. Hornets head coach Steve Clifford played him the entirety of the first quarter and half of the second quarter, and to Marv’s credit he performed extremely well with both the starting unit and the bench unit.

The bench as a whole was quite poor, Marco Belinelli aside. Some of the Hornets’ worst sequences occurred with Briante Weber on the floor, as the Cavs saw his inexperience and exploited it whenever they could. Frank Kaminsky didn’t convert on a single field goal, despite his nine attempts.

If it weren’t for Marv’s leadership things would’ve been much, much worse when the starters took a rest. He finished with a double-double.

So did Cody Zeller, whom also did this...

If you watched this game, you definitely enjoyed it. It was close, fast-paced, and diversified enough to keep you interested.

The downside is that the Hornets lost and now only have 10 games left to make up at least three games in the Eastern Conference standings if they want to make the playoffs. It’s looking like they’re bound for the lottery, but it’s still possible.

Possible.

The Hornets next play on Sunday against the Phoenix Suns.

Devin Booker just scored 70 points. That is not a typo.