The Hornets started the game terribly, much like they did in their last visit to Cleveland. They connected on just two of their first ten shots while the Cavaliers jumped out to a 12-4 lead. James Borrego called a timeout to rectify the situation and pull Miles Bridges, who gave up the last two buckets of the Cavs run on cuts to Cedi Osman. The Hornets offense got on track after that timeout, but the defense stayed lackluster. Cody Zeller made an instant impact with a couple of free throws and a pair of dunks as the Hornets reeled the Cavs in. Back to back 3-pointers from Dwayne Bacon and Malik Monk gave the Hornets their first lead. After one, the Hornets led 31-29.
The second quarter started much like the first. The Cavs scored the first seven points of the frame before Bacon got the Hornets on the board with a pair of free throws. The Hornets missed their first ten field goal attempts of the quarter before Rozier finally converted a fast break layup. The Cavs were on a 15-2 run up to that point. The Hornets went on a little run after that, ultimately pulling as close as three, but they couldn’t sustain it. Their deficit had grown back to seven points by halftime.
Devonte’ Graham finally hit his first shot of the game a few minutes into the third as the teams traded baskets. The Hornets briefly grabbed the lead after a second Graham 3-pointer and a Bacon layup, but it was short lived. The teams went back and forth through the end of the third quarter, resulting in a three point Cavaliers lead.
Bacon hit an early three to get the Hornets going in the fourth quarter, but it was quickly answered by back to back dunks from John Henson that put the Cavs up seven. The Hornets wouldn’t go away quietly though. After falling behind by ten, Devonte’ Graham baited John Henson into fouling him behind the 3-point line. After Kevin Love restored the lead to nine, the Hornets reeled off nine straight points, including five from Rozier. After an exchange of 3-pointers, both teams went several possessions without a point. That ended when Devonte’ Graham pulled up for a deep three to put the Hornets up a triple with 23 seconds to go.
The Cavaliers ensuing inbound play didn’t go to plan. Collin Sexton dribbled several seconds off the clock before missing a heavily contested layup. Bismack Biyombo secured the rebound to give the Hornets the ball. Cedi Osman hit a three to pull the Cavs within two. It looked like the Hornets threw away the ensuing inbound pass, but the officials had granted James Borrego a timeout before the turnover occurred. Rozier hit one of two free throws, and Collin Sexton’s desperation three to potentially tie the game drew back iron.
The Hornets will try to build off this win in Dallas on Saturday.