The Charlotte Hornets blew a 19 point lead, but held on to defeat the Phoenix Suns, 122-115. Dwight Howard finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds, while Nicolas Batum scored 29 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Charlotte found shots early and often in the first quarter, particularly from behind the arc. Marvin Williams connected on back-to-back 3-pointers before Kemba Walker knocked one down. The Hornets opened up a 15-9 lead, forcing the Suns to take a timeout midway through the quarter.
The timeout didn’t help, as Charlotte built their lead to 15 late in the quarter. It looked to be all things Hornets, but Phoenix made two 3-pointers to end the 1st and cut Charlotte’s lead to seven.
The Suns took that momentum into the second quarter, going on a 7-0 run to tie the game. Charlotte quickly re-took the lead, but the game remained close. Charlotte’s bench struggled to generate offense and defend, which spurred the comeback.
Charlotte began to re-take control as the starters trickled back in. A 3-pointer by Walker gave Charlotte an 11 point lead with under two minutes remaining. Phoenix cut into the lead late, but Walker scored right at the buzzer after losing his dribble to give Charlotte a 59-51 halftime lead.
Phoenix made a small run to start the second half, but Charlotte pushed their lead back to double-digits. Marvin Williams provided a ton of energy, following a monster slam dunk with a loose ball pick up on the ensuing defensive possession.
Batum got hot as Charlotte’s lead increased. He knocked down two consecutive 3’s, the latter of which turned into a four point play after he was fouled. Leading by 19, they once again looked in full control. At this point, it was on the second unit to maintain the lead.
They did, at least for a couple of minutes. Kaminsky bounced back after a dreadful first half, knocking down a couple couple of shots to keep Charlotte’s lead at 20. Phoenix began to threaten a bit, cutting the lead to 13 with under nine minutes remaining. They continued to chip away, getting within seven points with six minutes remaining. Dragan Bender went on a tear, scoring 14 points in six minutes to lead Phoenix’s comeback.
Phoenix cut it to three with around five minutes remaining after Troy Daniels knocked down a 3-pointer — Phoenix’s 18th of the game to that point. Kaminsky knocked down a 3 out of the timeout, but the Suns scored twice to cut it to two. Walker got a number of open looks, but couldn’t knock them down. Needing a bucket, the Hornets turned to Batum, who banked a 3-pointer to increase the lead to five with 51 seconds remaining. Phoenix scored to cut it to three, but Howard matched on the other end with two made free throws. Phoenix missed a 3 the next time down and then followed Batum who knocked down two free throws to increase the lead to seven.
And that was enough. Charlotte escaped with a seven point win, despite their best efforts to blow it.
There isn’t much more to say than this. Phoenix was prolific from beyond the arc, which allowed them to get back in the game. The Hornets were great at times and terrible at others, which about sums up how they’ve played all season. The Hornets move to 29-38 on the season.