Ball Sinks Game-Winner, Hornets Beat Bucks Again

Charlotte Comes Up Clutch to Sweep 3-Game Homestand at Spectrum Center
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Gallery | James Borrego Postgame | Terry Rozier Postgame | LaMelo Ball Postgame

Defeating the Milwaukee Bucks just once is a tough enough task as it is. The Charlotte Hornets just managed to do it twice in three days after knocking off the reigning NBA Champions again, 103-99, on Monday night at Spectrum Center.

Terry Rozier racked up a team-high 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in the victory, marking his third 25-point game in four outings. The hero of the night was LaMelo Ball though, as he added another 23 points, none of which were bigger than the final two coming on a you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it runner with 15 seconds left on the game clock.

The contest began with a back-and-forth battle for much of the opening half before Charlotte used an 18-2 third-quarter run to build a nine-point advantage heading into the fourth. Still down four with 39 seconds left, Milwaukee tied the game with a four-point possession thanks to a Giannis Antetokounmpo and-1 followed by a tipped-in missed free throw by Wes Matthews.

On the other end, Ball milked the shot clock down to about five seconds, quickly raced left inside the 3-point line and then sank a perfectly-balanced floater to give the Hornets the lead. Antetokounmpo’s errant drive-and-kick pass to Pat Connaughton in the left corner led to a Bucks turnover, providing Miles Bridges a chance to ice the game at the charity stripe.

“We were trying to execute something and the play kind of got scrambled up,” described Ball afterwards. “I threw it to [Terry] and he pretty much told me to ‘bag up.’ I took the iso and pretty much from there, I hit the little floater. Coming out with the win was the main thing. We did that, so we’re all happy right now.”

“We came out with the appropriate respect for this team,” said Head Coach James Borrego. “We knew they were going to throw a major punch. They had great energy, we had great energy, both teams had good looks. We just made enough plays down the stretch, but I’m really proud of their effort defensively. We’re getting there. We’re making strides. It looks like there’s a value being placed on that end of the floor. We just have to continue it.”

Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 27 points and Antetokounmpo added 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, while also going just 5-of-8 from the free-throw line after taking 20 attempts on Saturday. Milwaukee shot 44%, but went just 13-of-43 from 3-point range (30%) and committed a season-high-tying 20 turnovers.

Charlotte could have very easily rested on its laurels after winning the first go-around, especially with the Bucks a bit more rested and having two key reserves – Donte DiVincenzo and Connaughton – back in the lineup. But splitting this rare two-game head-to-head series at home didn’t appear to be an option for the Hornets.

Added Borrego, “Both nights we were competing our tail off against Giannis. He’s a heck-of-a-player, MVP, NBA Champion, one of the best in our league and he’s a problem. You have to put multiple bodies on him, but our guys had great effort on him tonight. Collectively, we were trying to do it. We have to build on this win, keep the momentum going and you do that with your effort and preparation. That’s our challenge.”

The Hornets will now make a short one-game road trip to face the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, Jan. 12 beginning at 7 PM ET.

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