By the time 2020 rolled around, the Charlotte Hornets had regressed to their expectation. They lost six straight games to close out 2019 before picking up a win over the Cavaliers in their first game of 2020. Two nights later, they faced a Dallas Mavericks team that boasted the best offense in the league at that point of the season.
The Hornets fell into an early 10-4 deficit but quickly pulled the game even thanks to a couple buckets and a dime from Devonte’ Graham. The Hornets offense went stagnant for a few possessions, but they remedied that before long and went on a 15-2 run where the ball was zipping around the floor and the offense was coming easy. After one, the Hornets led 32-20, capped off by a buzzer beating 3-pointer by Malik Monk.
The Hornets held their lead throughout the second quarter and at one point built it as large as 20 points off a fabulous bounce pass from Graham to PJ Washington on a fast break. The Mavericks, who started the game of 1-for-15 from three, found their stroke in the final minutes of the quarter. The Hornets led by 13 at the half after a buzzer beating 3-pointer by Maxi Kleber.
The Hornets held the Mavericks to just 44 points in the entire first half. They gave up 40 in the third quarter alone. It took a little under nine minutes for the Hornets lead to be completely washed away, and the downward spiral continued into the fourth quarter. The Hornets deficit peaked at twelve points at the 9:09 mark of the fourth quarter. From the 4:10 mark of the second quarter to that point, the Hornets were outscored 63-31.
If the 2019-20 season taught us anything, it’s that this Hornets team is resilient. And head coach James Borrego knows how to get that out of his team. During a timeout with the Hornets trailing 94-87, Borrego left his coach’s huddle to sing along to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, which was playing over the arena’s PA system. It worked, apparently. The Hornets regathered themselves and clawed back into the game. PJ Washington drove the lane and dunked over Maxi Kleber to pull the Hornets within two with 43 seconds to go. After Luke Doncic missed one of his trademark stepbacks, Terry Rozier made an acrobatic, driving left-handed layup to knot the game up with 19 seconds left. Doncic missed another 3-pointer as the clock expired, and the game went to overtime.
Bismack Biyombo opened the scoring in the overtime period with this act of disrespect:
I don’t know to recap the rest of overtime and do it justice. Both teams caught fire, bombed triples, and made all sort of impressive shots. It was probably one of the most electric five minute stretches of basketball the league saw all season.
Terry Rozier put the Hornets up three with a contested 3-pointer with 41 seconds to go. A Kleber dunk pulled the Mavericks within one, but it didn’t leave enough time on the clock for the Mavericks to play straight up defense. The Hornets executed the free throw game flawlessly and won by that three point margin.
Three Hornets finished with double doubles, led by Devonte’ Graham with 27 points and 13 assists. Terry Rozier finished with 29 points and eight assists while PJ Washington chipped in 19 points of his own.
It was by far the most impressive win of the season for the Hornets at that point and was arguably the most entertaining game we watched all season.