A nearly flawless first half by the Charlotte Hornets was erased by a dominant and relentless third quarter attack by the Washington Wizards that lead to a 118-111 loss in an important road game. Outscored 38-16 in the quarter — Charlotte was dealt a haymaker across the chin they never fully recovered from.
The Hornets led 63-51 after a first half highlighted by team captain and emerging three-point god Kemba Walker—who dropped 17 points in the second and finished the half with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Walker continued to own the night, finishing with 37 points on the evening on 13-25 shooting. But the rest of the team offered almost nothing in the third quarter, in a game that was marred by careless turnovers and missed opportunities.
Kemba’s stats pop more, but his All-Star counterpart John Wall arguably played him to a draw with 23 points, 13 assists and six steals, with many of Wall’s buckets came in dramatic, momentum shifting plays. Wall has finally reached that superstar level — he has a great awareness of The Moment, and how and when to exert his will to capitalize on it.
Wall had help of course. The Wizards have a deadly lineup of three point threats, and they were on full display. The team went 17-34 from behind the arc on the night, with Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris, and Jason Smith all scoring in double digits, and Otto Porter Jr. chipping in 9 points of his own including a dagger three pointer with 30 seconds remaining in the game to put the Wizards up eight.
The Hornets were one of the hottest teams in the NBA going into Tuesday night. Two weeks ago the team looked hopelessly out of the playoff race before tearing off seven of nine wins and finally firing on all cylinders with a (mostly) healthy roster.
We knew they were likely going to have to win out to make the playoffs, but it was hard not to look at the recent play of the team as sort of a magical, Cinderella type run towards the playoffs. With five previous March Madness champions on the roster (not to mention Frank Kaminsky, who led Wisconsin to back to back Final Fours), the team is certainly experienced with magical hot streak runs to finish a season.
Hopefully there is a little bit of time left before the clock strikes midnight on them.