Hornets Comeback Comes Up Short against Bucks
Graham’s 4th Quarter, Bridges Double-Double Not Enough in Charlotte
Charlotte took the first two games of the season series from Milwaukee heading into Tuesday’s game at Spectrum Center. The Bucks are leaving the Queen City knowing they had to hold off a Hornets team that refused to fold and pushed one of the East’s best teams to the brink before falling, 114-104, as the series wraps at 2-1.
Devonte’ Graham led the Hornets with 25 points on 6-of-13 shooting from behind the arc and scored 10 points as Charlotte looked to complete the comeback in the fourth quarter. Miles Bridges followed with his 11th double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds to go with two blocked shots.
PJ Washington continued his solid string of play with 18 points, while Cody Martin rounded out double-digit scorers in the starting lineup with 10 points to go with eight rebounds and a career-high four steals. Brad Wanamaker also came off the bench to score 13 for the Hornets.
After leading by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, the Bucks found themselves clinging to a 103-99 lead with 2:00 remaining after Graham’s two free throws brought the game within reach. The Hornets twice had the chance to make things a one-possession game, but Cody Martins drive and Terry Rozier’s three from the right side both rimmed out and Miwaukee’s closers took over in the final moments.
First Giannis pushed Milwaukee’s lead to six with a driving dunk on its ensuing possession. Graham would hit two more free throws, only to be countered by a Jrue Holiday driving dunk followed by a patented Khris Middleton corner three to give the Bucks a 110-101 advantage and put the game away.
“The resiliency was there. The competitive spirit was there. We had two shots to cut it to one and had two great looks,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego. “Give them some credit, they’re a heck of a team and they made plays down the stretch. They made a couple and we missed a couple.”
Charlotte started the game 6-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-5 from three and went up 15-11 in the first five minutes of the contents. From that point, the Hornets struggled to find their groove offensively in the first half, scoring only 30 points in the next 19 minutes. Charlotte managed to hit just 12-of-35 shots (34.3 percent) of its shots from the field, including 2-of-13 shots (15.4 percent) from outside the arc.
Milwaukee may have started slow, but it didn’t take long the Bucks to use their size and athleticism, keyed by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. After starting 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) from the field, going 1-of-4 (25.0 percent) from outside the arc and getting just two points from Giannis in the first five minutes, Milwaukee would finish the half connecting on 22-of-39 shots (56.4 percent), led by 15 points and eight boards from Giannis in the half. He would finish with a game-high 29 points to go with 12 rebounds, while Holiday also recored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
But Charlotte would bounce back after falling behind 68-49 early in the third behind the efforts of Washington, who - despite playing with four fouls - rattled off a personal 12-point run to get the Hornets back in the game. With the offense clicking, Charlotte finished a red-hot 66.7 percent (12-of-18) from the field in the third quarter as they outscored Milwaukee, 35-25, and cut the lead to 87-80 to set up one last final push from the Hornets.
“I love the way our guys competed tonight against one of the top teams in the NBA again. It was a very good second half,” Borrego said. “I though our effort and our ball movement was better there in the second half overall. We lost our way a little bit in the second quarter with our ball moment and body movement. I didn’t like the way our shot quality was there and it cost us.”
The Hornets now hop on a plane to take on their last opponents, the Celtics, but this time at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Boston. Tune in to Bally Sports Southeast or listen on WFNZ.