The Hornets put in a rare, strong first quarter tonight. The Mavericks jumped out to a 10-4 lead, but the Hornets outscored them 29-10 over the rest of the quarter. The Mavericks scored pretty much all of their early points in the paint, and the Hornets did a good job limiting them after the first few minutes. The Hornets got well balanced scoring across the board, ending with a Malik Monk 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Hornets up 12 heading into the second quarter.
Perhaps just as surprising as the Hornets first quarter was the fact that the Hornets maintained their strong play all the way until halftime. They held a lead as large as 20 at one point before the Mavericks hit back to back 3-pointers to reduce their deficit. Devonte’ Graham made several nice passes in the quarter and finished the half with nine assists. His best was this beautiful dime to PJ Washington in transition.
Devonte' Graham on a dime to P.J. Washington. pic.twitter.com/LODqQfPrCr— NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2020
Through one half of play, the Hornets had limited the NBA’s best offense to 37% shooting from the field and 14% from three. They led 57-44 at the break.
The Mavericks started the second half with a renewed focus and immediately took a significant chunk out of the Hornets lead. Luka Doncic scored or assisted on 15 of 17 Mavericks points during a 17-8 run to cut the Hornets lead down to four and force a timeout. They tied the game at 72 a short time later. In all they, dropped 40 points in the quarter, turning what had been a 20-point Hornets lead into a 4-point Mavericks lead heading into the fourth quarter. On the bright side, Devonte’ Graham reached a double double early in the quarter. He had 15 points and 10 assists through three quarters.
The fourth quarter started the same way as the third. The Mavericks scored the first seven points before PJ Washignton made a tough runner through contact and Terry Rozier connected on a 3-pointer. The rest of the fourth quarter felt like the Hornets were threatening to make a run, but the Mavericks always found a bucket to keep the Hornets at bay. Devonte’ Graham hit a pair of big 3-pointers despite having not made any all game prior.
With the Hornets trailing by six and 90 seconds remaining, Graham drew contact to get to the line, where he hit a pair of free throws. After a Mavericks turnover. PJ Washington drove the lane for an emphatic dunk to pull the Hornets within two with 43.8 seconds to play. Luka Doncic missed a step back 3-point attempt on the following Mavericks possession, and Terry Rozier took advantage of a scrambling defense to convert a super tough layup to tie the game with 19 seconds left. Doncic tried another step back at the buzzer, but again, it just missed, and the game went into overtime.
The overtime period was about as entertaining as five minutes of basketball can be. The teams traded haymakers, with Bismack Biyombo throwing the most emphatic of them all to open the scoring.
Bismack Biyombo plants Maxi Kleber into the dirt, stares to make sure the fertilizer is properly placed. pic.twitter.com/72aEhbfG0f— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 5, 2020
PJ Washington hit a calm 3-pointer and a grown man drive to the basket, and Terry Rozier chipped in a clutch tip in, among other baskets. The Mavericks had an answer for everything, and it usually involved Maxi Kleber. The Hornets found themselves with the ball and the lead, meaning the Mavericks had to foul. Bridges hit both free throws to put the Hornets up three. Doncic took a layup to pull within one, but Rozier hit a pair of free throws of his own to restore the Hornets lead. The Hornets elected to foul the Mavericks instead of letting them hoist a potential game-tying three, and the strategy ultimately paid off as the Hornets held on for the win.
Terry Rozier scored 29 points. Devonte’ Graham was one of three Hornets to notch double doubles with 27 points and 13 assists. The others were Miles Bridges (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Bismack Biyombo (11 points, 13 rebounds). PJ Washington looked like anything but a rookie with a quiet 19 points, including a couple huge buckets in overtime.
This was one of the most entertaining games of the season, perhaps league-wide. The Hornets will try to carry this momentum home with them for a Monday night tilt with the Indiana Pacers.