Both teams started out ice cold. It took three minutes for either team to score a basket, and Terry Rozier’s fast break layup to open the scoring garnered an atypically loud cheer for such a basic basket. The Thunder found their rhythm during the final five minutes of quarter and scored 21 points during that stretch. After one, the Hornets trailed by eight.
With the outside shots not falling, the Hornets made a more concerted effort to get the ball into the paint. It didn’t help the team’s efficiency though. The Hornets trailed by as many as 16 during the quarter, but they were able to undo that by half’s end. Rozier, Cody Martin, and Bismack Biyombo spurred a run with high energy play down the stretch. The Hornets also converted their first 3-pointer during that run after 18 misses to start the game. At the half, the Hornets’ deficit was 10.
The Hornets ratcheted up the defensive intensity in the third quarter and limited the Thunder to 19 points. A 13-4 pulled the Hornets within two about halfway through the quarter, but it was immediately answered by eight straight Thunder points. The Hornets went two-and-a-half minutes without a bucket during that run, but they did get a couple interior baskets in the final minute to build some momentum heading into the fourth.
Malik Monk took over the start of the fourth quarter with three highlight plays in about a three minutes of game time.
Malik Monk lobs it up for Cody Martin pic.twitter.com/tkFeCBDV3N— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 28, 2019
There was a nice dish to Cody Zeller on the break in there as well
A Devonte’ Graham layup on the possession after Martin’s dunk gave the Hornets their first lead since the early stages of the game. A few minutes of back and forth basketball resulted in a two point lead for the Thunder with just over a minute remaining. Zeller reeled in a missed Chris Paul jumper and pushed the ball ahead to Rozier in transition. He was swarmed by three Thunder players, one of which fell into his legs and appeared to kick at the ball while another grabbed at his arm. Somehow in all the ruckus, an official called a double dribble on Rozier. Paul hit a jumper on the ensuing Thunder possession to put the Thunder up four.
But this Hornets team won’t lie down. Miles Bridges canned a corner three to pull the Hornets within one. After a couple back and forth possessions, the Hornets found themselves with the ball down two with a 8 seconds to go. Devonte’ Graham forced his way into the paint and converted the game tying layup and force overtime.
DEVONTE'— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 28, 2019
The Hornets started overtime down by a point because Rozier was given a technical for throwing the ball into the crowd after Paul’s potential game winner went begging. The Hornets found themselves down four with under 20 seconds to go, and Devonte’ Graham did his best to save the Hornets once more.
The Hornets had another chance to tie on the final possession of overtime. PJ Washington bullied his way into the paint and drew a foul, but his shot just rolled off the rim. He couldn’t convert the potential tying free throws.
This game played out the way many expected most Hornets games to go this season. Terry Rozier carried the Hornets offense for stretches while his teammates struggled to put the ball in the basket. But by the end of the game, six Hornets had accrued double digit point totals—Rozier, Graham, Washington, Miles Bridges, Bismack Biyombo, and Cody Martin.
The Hornets will try to get back on track in Memphis on Sunday.