By Sam Perley
In what will go down as one of the most unbelievable endings to any game in franchise history, Jeremy Lamb’s banked-in, half-court, three-point heave sent the Charlotte Hornets to an improbable 115-114 road win over the Raptors on Sunday, March 24 in Toronto, ON.
Led by Dwayne Bacon’s career-high 20 points, seven Charlotte players scored in double figures, helping keep the team’s playoff dreams alive for the time being. However, it was Lamb who was clearly the indisputable hero at the end of the night up in Canada.
“I just want to thank Jesus Christ because that’s the only way that shot went in,” he said moments later. “We played a great overall game. I think everybody contributed, everybody played well. I’m just thankful that last shot went in.”
The Hornets held a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, but after a Raptors rally, found themselves behind by two with 4.3 seconds left following a missed Kawhi Leonard jumper at the other end. After a Toronto foul, Pascal Siakam batted away Charlotte’s ensuing inbounds attempt, which was scooped up by Lamb just beyond the court’s midway point and fired off a second later.
“That’s just how we drew it up,” said a smiling Hornets Head Coach James Borrego after the game. “They’re a great defense – so long. [That shot] was just a contested bomb and he got it up there. He gave it a run and that thing went in.”
Kemba Walker was also marvelous once again, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, a season-high 13 assists and a game-high four steals. This is the first time Walker has recorded a double-double in consecutive games since March 11-13, 2017.
Rookie Miles Bridges (16), Willy Hernangómez (13), Lamb (13), Marvin Williams (10) and Devonte’ Graham (10) also scored in double figures for Charlotte. Hernangómez added a game-high 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and Graham dished out a career-high nine assists as well.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them. I’m so happy for them,” added Borrego. “They deserve this win. They battled, they’re sticking together, playing for each other. The ball is moving on the road in a very tough environment against a fully-loaded Toronto team. I was just proud of them on both ends of the floor. We figured out a way to close out a close game on the road.”
The Hornets set a franchise single-quarter record with 10 three-pointers in the third (previous: 9, Jan. 26, 2016 at Sacramento). A career-high five of them came from Bacon, which also matched the team record for most in a quarter by one player (Walker, Ben Gordon).
Leonard led the Raptors with a game-high 28 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the loss. Siakam added another 23 points and seven rebounds and Marc Gasol chipped in 17 points and six assists. As a team, Toronto shot 58.4 percent from the field, the highest mark ever by a Charlotte opponent in a losing effort.
With their eyes set on a fourth straight win, the Hornets now return home to take on the San Antonio Spurs, which tips off on Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. ET in Charlotte.