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Recap: Hornets rally late but lose to Suns in overtime, 101-97

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Devonte’ Graham put on a show down the stretch, but the Hornets couldn’t get over the hump against the second best team in the West.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Charlotte Hornets Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Devonte’ Graham scored a season high 30 points including a number of huge shots down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough as the Charlotte Hornets dropped an overtime thriller to the Phoenix Suns, 101-97.

The teams traded blows throughout a very even first quarter. Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham each chipped in a couple triples for the Hornets while DeAndre Ayton did a lot of damage on the interior for the Suns. Neither team went on any significant run, and the Hornets took a three point lead into the quarter break.

The Suns went on a little baby run to flip the score early in the second quarter, and most of the rest of the period was played with a small lead for the Suns. Devonte’ Graham hit a pull-up 3-pointer to tie the game at 49 with 1:16 left in the half, and that remained the score when the halftime buzzer sounded. It was a very fitting score, as the two teams played completely even basketball over the first 24 minutes.

A sluggish start to the second half for the Hornets allowed the Suns to score 11 straight points out of the gate. The Hornets committed five turnovers in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the half and didn’t score in that stretch. Three straight possessions ended in offensive fouls as they game got chippy. A little tussle between Jae Crowder and Miles Bridges resulted in a technical foul for Crowder and a flagrant for Bridges, and the ensuing technical free throw finally got the Hornets on the board in the second half. The teams played the rest of the third quarter pretty evenly, though both struggled to put the ball into the basket. Brad Wanamaker made his Hornets debut and committed a foul. After three, the Hornets trailed by nine.

The Suns scored seven straight points to start the fourth quarter before Devonte’ Graham hit a tough step back three over Dario Saric. That started a 9-0 run for the Hornets, which was capped off by a Miles Bridges dunk show.

Miles made the play of the night a couple possessions later, catching an alley oop pass while being held by Chris Paul and flipping in the layup. The ensuing free throw would’ve cut the Suns lead to three, but somehow the officials determined the foul was not a shooting foul, and the Hornets ended up coming out of the possession empty handed. Devin Booker made an impossible floater on the end of the floor to put the Suns up eight, a five point swing.

The Hornets could’ve let their misfortune deflate them, but Devonte’ Graham had other plans. He made an extremely difficult driving layup and then splashed consecutive pull-up triples to tie the game with 34 seconds to play. The Suns missed on their ensuing possession, setting up a potential Hornets game winner, but Graham’s attempt for a third straight three came up just a bit short, and the game went into overtime.

Most of the scoring in the overtime period came at the line as the Hornets in particular struggled to get the ball to go through the cylinder from the field. A bad Devin Booker pass with the Suns up five led to a Hornets run out that ended with another pull-up three for Graham. After the Hornets forced another Suns turnover, Graham took a tough shot for the lead, but couldn’t get it to go down. Devin Booker got bailed out with a foul call on the other end while shooting an ill advised shot with the shot clock off. He hit both free throws to put the Suns up four with 14.1 seconds to play. After Graham hit a pair of free throws, the Hornets almost stole the ensuing inbound pass, but the Suns were able to corral the loose ball before Chris Paul was fouled, leading to the game clinching free throws.

There are no moral victories in the NBA, but there is reason to be proud of the Hornets for going toe to toe with the second best team in the West while down a couple key pieces. This team is for real.

Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges joined Devonte’ Graham with superlatives. Each had double doubles; 22 points and 10 rebounds for Rozier and 18 points and 12 rebounds for Bridges.

The Hornets hit the road for a six game road trip starting with the Wizards on Tuesday.