It took about 20 seconds for Trae Young to bury a 3-ball from near the logo at half court. Devonte’ got the best of him early, though, forcing him into two turnovers that resulted in points for the Hornets and finishing the quarter with 11 points and three steals. The Hornets’ backcourt carried the scoring load in the first, with Terry Rozier scoring 15 points on 6-7 shooting, including 3-3 from beyond the arc. Cody Martin hit a free-throw line pull-up and I nearly fell out of my chair. PJ Washington played only five minutes and collected three fouls. The Hornets defense was equally-porous as their (backcourt) offense was potent, and the game was tied at 32 after the first period.
The early portion of the second quarter belonged to Caleb Martin. He made all four of his shots, three of which were 3-pointers, good for 11 points while being his usual active self off-ball and on defense. As a whole, though, very little defense was played by either team, and the game was tied 45-45 with 7:29 to go in the half. Jalen McDaniels kept a few possessions alive by leaping out of bounds to save loose balls and hustling for offensive boards — he also nailed a 27-footer just before the halftime buzzer to cut the Hornets’ deficit to 66-63. Devonte’s 16 points at the break were a game-high, and he also tallied five assists and three steals.
The third quarter began with some bad defense. James Borrego got to use his big red button when he challenged a blocking call on Jalen McDaniels, though the call stood. At that point, the Hornets trailed 79-73 with 7:33 left in the third. About two minutes later, Devonte’ left the floor with an apparent ankle injury, though he’d soon return to the bench and get back on the floor in the fourth. The Hornets shot a perfect 14-14 from the free-throw line in the quarter, but trailed 98-94 heading into the final period due to Atlanta shooting exceedingly well.
In every sense of the word, this was a back-and-forth game until the fourth quarter. The Hawks stretched the lead out to 103-96 with 7:48 to go, and eventually built their lead up to nine points, but the Hornets are persistent. Terry and Caleb Martin willed them back into the game, and Devonte’ capped it all off by hitting a pair of foul shots to put the Hornets up 122-121 with 5.5 seconds left. Young went to the line for the Hawks with a chance to win the game after Caleb Martin committed a reaching foul, but he missed the second free throw and the game went to overtime tied at 122. Terry led the Hornets with 28 points, while Devonte’ had 25 and eight assists.
To keep it simple, Terry and Trae Young had themselves a battle in the first overtime. Young had seven points to Terry’s five. The end of this overtime was an absolute disaster; first, Terry drove to the rim for the tying layup and a foul was called on Brandon Goodwin. They reviewed it, and put 0.8 seconds on the clock after it was determined the call came before the buzzer. Then, Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce challenged the call that had already been reviewed, and the referees overturned it and called an offensive foul on Terry (he appeared to hook his off-arm around Goodwin on the drive). THEN, they reviewed it again and gave the Hawks a clean 1.0 seconds to get a shot off; however, Young missed an open floater and the game went to double-overtime tied at 131. Terry was up to 33 points.
Terry continued to ball out in the second overtime. Without him, there is no chance the Hornets bring this game to double-OT. He scored all seven of Charlotte’s points in the period, but the young Hornets understandably started to run out of gas. Terry willed them back into it by tying the game at 138 with a side-step 3-ball with 25.3 seconds to play. Caleb Martin fouled De’Andre Hunter on a 3-point attempt on the ensuing possession, giving the Hawks a 141-138 lead with 13.3 seconds left. Unfortunately, Terry can’t make every shot, and his tying shot attempt didn’t fall. Cam Reddish hit a pair of free throws to seal the game, and the game ended with a 143-138 loss for the Hornets.
Terry Rozier set a career-high with 40 points, as did Caleb Martin with 23. Devonte’ notched his 17th double-double, scoring 27 points and adding 10 assists. John Collins shot 12-13 from the floor and finished with 28 points and 11 boards for Atlanta, while Trae Young dropped 31 points and dished out 16 assists.
What a game. I was sweating for both overtimes and the last few minutes of the fourth. The Hornets’ defense wasn’t necessarily “good” tonight, but they fought their behinds off and played with energy. Atlanta also shot insanely well. They shot 55.2% from the field and 48.8% from beyond the arc, making 21 3-pointers as a team. Jalen McDaniels, Caleb Martin, and Cody Martin all played well off the bench. The Hornets only had three (3) turnovers in 58 minutes of basketball. That is astounding. These young Hornets are doing some things, people. Losing close games always stinks, but there’s a different tone to this loss, and you can hear it in Borrego’s voice during post-game interviews too. Somethin’s a brewin’ in Charlotte.