After a thrilling comeback overtime win over the Indiana Pacers to move over .500, the Charlotte Hornets dropped four straight games to come back down to Earth. They snapped that losing streak in the most exciting way possible, and then followed that up with a similar ending on the very next night.
The Hornets went into their game against the Detroit Pistons on November 17th fresh off a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Ja Morant and the Grizzlies. In that game, the Hornets blew a double digit third quarter lead before falling behind by double digits in the fourth. They mounted a furious comeback to tie the game in the final minute, but Morant stole the win with a layup with less than a second to go.
Two nights later, the Hornets flipped the script. They trailed the Pistons by 14 at the half before erasing their deficit in the third quarter. They built a lead in the fourth quarter, but saw it quickly wiped away as the end of the game drew near. Three straight Pistons 3-pointers turned a six point Hornets lead into a three point deficit with less than a minute to go. Cody Martin grabbed an offensive rebound to keep the Hornets possession alive, and Marvin Williams capitalized with a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game with 23 seconds to go.
The Pistons elected to play out the last possession without calling a timeout, and it backfired. Derrick Rose got caught in the air under the basket and threw the ball away. The Hornets took possession with exactly one second to play.
The Hornets were in New York 24 hours later to take on the Knicks. That game followed a similar pattern. The Hornets found themselves down by double digits in the second half before a furious third quarter comeback leveled the game heading into the fourth quarter.
This time, they didn’t have a fourth quarter lead to blow. A four-and-a-half minute scoreless drought put the Hornets in an eight point hole, which was capped off by a practically one-footed Mitchell Robinson getting open for a dunk after twisting his ankle about 20 seconds prior. Terry Rozier woke the offense up with a nice find of PJ Washington before a couple strong drives of his own.
The teams went back and forth down the stretch, combining for 11 consecutive possessions with points until there were less than 30 seconds left on the clock. The Hornets finally got a stop when PJ Washington forced Julius Randle into a wild running floater. The Hornets secured the rebound and called timeout with six seconds left. They ran the same play they did to get a look for Devonte’ Graham against the Pacers, and it worked to perfection.
The Knicks inbounded to Julius Randle out of the timeout, but he airballed his step-back jump shot attempt that probably came after the buzzer anyway.
This two game stretch was the perfect representation of the Hornets early season form. They dug themselves into big holes but mounted electrifying comebacks and pulled off improbable wins. Even if the wins weren’t sustainable, the young guys showed they weren’t afraid of big moments.