The Bucks got to the basket at will in the early minutes of the game while the Hornets clanged most of their looks. The Hornets found themselves down 14-4 when the first subs entered the game. The Hornets gathered themselves from that point on, even cutting into the deficit a bit as the quarter went on. The Martin twins each hit a 3-pointer from roughly the same spot as part of that mini run. After the first quarter, the Hornets trailed 26-20.
The Hornets started the quarter on an 8-2 run to tie the game and force Mike Budenholzer to take a timeout. Caleb Martin stole the ball immediately after the timeout, and it led to a bucket that gave the Hornets the lead. The Martin twins and Willy Hernangomez brought energy off the bench and spurred the Hornets rally, just like everyone expected coming into the game. Giannis Antetokounmpo checked into the game with the Bucks down four and promptly accounted for 11 straight Bucks points. Devonte’ Graham answered the bell with seven straight points for the Hornets. The half fittingly ended with Cody Martin swatting a George Hill layup attempt off the glass to hold the Hornets two point deficit.
The Bucks scored a couple of easy dunks to start the second half, forcing a clearly miffed James Borrego to take a timeout. The start the half paralleled the start of the first, but the Hornets took a little longer to make their push. Cody and Caleb Martin connected on an alley oop then Devonte’ Graham hit a layup while being fouled in transition. By the end of the third quarter, the Hornets cut their deficit to two.
The teams went back and forth for almost the entire fourth quarter. Between the start and four minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Bucks never led by more than four or less than one. The Bucks did most of their damage from the free throw line, including a stretch where nine of 11 points came at the stripe. James Borrego tried to put a stop to that with a challenge of a Caleb Martin foul on Brook Lopez, but he wasn’t rewarded for his efforts. Giannis hit a tough turnaround and Graham missed a 3-pointer on the other end, which marked the point where the Hornets ran out of gas. The Bucks finished the game on a 7-2 run to give them an eight point win.
There were a lot of positives to take out of this game, even in losing. The Hornets took the top two teams in the Eastern Conference down to the wire in back to back games. They were the first team to hold the Bucks under 100 points all season, and the first team to do it in a regular season game since the Orlando Magic did it on February 9th, 2019. The Bucks were held to just 40% shooting and were turned over 16 times.
Devonte’ Graham played with the swagger he had at the beginning of the season and canned three more 3-pointers while scoring a team high 17 points. The Martin brothers and Willy Hernangomez all played very very good games off the bench. Hernangomez finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
The Hornets will try to keep the strong play with better results against James Borrego’s former employer on Tuesday.