Both teams were jumper happy out of the gate. The Clippers took the early edge in that arena, but the Hornets made up that ground in what was a largely even first quarter. PJ Washington shook off last game’s goose egg with a pair of first quarter 3-pointers after missing his first. He scored eight points in the period, second only to Kelly Oubre’s nine. The Hornets trailed 28-26 heading into the second quarter.
Bryce McGowens opened the second quarter with scoring with an aggressive drive that ended in another almost yam. It was the start of a really good second quarter for the rookie two-way player. He had a fast break swat on Kawhi Leonard and also stifled the vet defensively when he tried to go iso. On the other end, he shrugged off John Wall on a drive and score. Nicolas Batum splashed a pair of triples and John Wall hit a couple of jumpers of his own on the other end to help the Clippers build their lead despite the strong play of the Hornets’ rookie. The Clippers played most of the second quarter flirting with a double digit lead, the half ended with the Hornets down nine.
The Hornets came out of the gates firing to start the third quarter and immediately cut the Clippers lead down three points to force a timeout. Terry Rozier gave the Hornets the lead with a nifty weaving drive then extended it with a 4-point play on the Hornets’ next possession. It was the start of a 26-8 start to the third quarter in favor of the Hornets. Steve Clifford challenged a Mason Plumlee foul call at that point. The challenge was unsuccessful, then John Wall dialed back the clock with several consecutive transition baskets and assists to level the game. The tempo picked up from that point, and the Hornets used the fast break and offensive glass to take a 90-84 heading into the fourth quarter. Rozier scored 13 points in the quarter as the Hornets outscored the Clippers 36-21.
The Clippers scored seven straight to start the fourth quarter to set up a sprint to the finish. Batum hit another pair of 3-pointers to put the Clippers up eight, but the Hornets scored in multiples of three to trim the deficit back down. Kelly Oubre hit a couple of threes and PJ Washington had a couple of nice off-the-dribble scores to help the cause. An Oubre floater followed by a Paul George technical for throwing the ball of the stanchion leveled the two teams with two minutes to play.
Terry Rozier put the Hornets ahead with a leaning 15-footer from the corner. After a couple of misses each way, the Clippers tied the game after Paul George tipped an offensive rebound to Kawhi Leonard, who laid it in. Jalen McDaniels missed a corner three on the other end, then Leonard hit one of his trademark step back jumpers to put the Clippers up two with 1.4 seconds to play. Ivica Zubac tipped Mason Plumlee’s inbound pass, which forced a near impossible catch and shoot for PJ Washington, whose attempt went begging.
It was a refreshingly competent offensive performance, especially in the second half. The Hornets played with more pace and ball movement than they have in recent weeks. It opened up more driving lanes and perimeter shots in better rhythm. They assisted on 29 of their 47 made shots and shot respectable percentages from both the field and from three. Unfortunately the Clippers have too much star power that wouldn’t let the Hornets run away whenever it looked like they were going to.
The Hornets will try to get back in the win column in Brooklyn on Wednesday.