Bridges Leads Huge Hornets Rally, But Charlotte Comes Up Short in OT
Knicks Too Much in Extra Session after Battling from 18 PTS Down
How important is Miles Bridges to the Hornets? And how scary could a healthy Charlotte team be in the NBA Play-In Tournament?
Both questions may have been answered on Saturday afternoon in New York, as Charlotte battled back from an 18-point deficit to force overtime against the Knicks before eventually falling, 118-109. Coupled with the Indiana loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, the Hornets still control their own destiny tomorrow when they take on Washington.
Bridges returned after missing six games due to Health and Safety Protocols and showed little signs of rust with 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including 5-of-12 from outside the arc, while bringing down five rebounds, dishing out four assists and swiping one steal. Bridges keep the Hornets alive in the third quarter after seeing the Hornets fall behind by 17 points, 73-56. Much as Devonte’ Graham had done in the second quarter, Bridges was unstoppable in the third, rattling off a 10-1 run of his own and finishing the quarter with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including two three-pointers.
“A spectacular performance by him,” Hornets Head Coach James Borrego said of Bridges. “It was just special. What a boost. What a lift - just his energy and spirit. Then the production is much more than I could have expected or imagined. Give him credit. He’s been fantastic all year.”
Graham also impressed off the bench for the Hornets, finishing with 25 points of his own on 6-of-15 shooting from the field, including 5-of-12 from outside the arc. Graham also filled the stat sheet with eight assists and three rebounds while turning the ball over just once. Graham also had the chance to win it for the Hornets with a game-winning three, but could not connect with the game tied 104-104 and sent the game to OT.
“I thought our guys battled tonight. We could have given in and we kept battling,” said Borrego. “We had one shot to win the game. I’ll take that any day. Good effort. Good battle… Right ball in the right hands. I’ll trust Tae any time with that shot.”
Mounting the constant comeback appeared to eventually catch up to the Hornets in the extra session as the Knicks opened on a 10-2 run led by Julius Randle and would outscore Charlotte 14-5 in overtime to take the win.
Randle recorded a triple-double for the Knicks, finishing with a game-high 33 points to go with 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
Charlotte got double-doubles from Cody Zeller (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Jalen McDaniels (15 points, 10 rebounds) in the starting lineup, while Terry Rozier (13 points) also scored in double figures.
After starting the game trading buckets with the Knicks, LaMelo Ball’s putback had the Hornets within 19-18 early in the contest on the road. From that point, Charlotte went through an offensive drought, while the Knicks seemingly could not miss from outside the arc. New York closed the first quarter on a 17-9 run to take a 36-27 lead as they outshot the Hornets 52.4 percent (12-of-22) to 38.1 percent (9-of-23) from the field and an video-game like 77.8 percent (7-of-9) to 22.2 percent (2-of-9) from long range overall in the quarter.
The Knicks stayed hot to start the second, pushing their lead to 45-30 behind a 9-3 run. New York connected on 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) shots in the opening minutes while the Hornets went just 1-of-10 (10.0 percent) from the field.
Graham checked in and instantly connected on four-straight three-pointers for Charlotte and helped bring the deficit back down to single digits, 53-44. Graham would finish the quarter with 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field (4-of-8 from long range) and 3-of-3 shooting from the charity stripe while also dishing out two assists, grabbing a rebound and almost singlehandedly getting the Hornets back in the game as they entered halftime down, 63-54, and led to Charlotte’s big second-half comeback.
The Hornets now hit the road for a 1 p.m. on Sunday in Washington, where a win locks the Hornets into the No. 8 seed in the Play-In Tournament. Watch the game on Bally Sports Southeast or listen on WFNZ as Charlotte tries to secure the eighth spot.