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Staying Alive: Second Straight 4th Quarter Comeback Preserves Playoff Hopes

Kemba Walker scored 31 points, the Hornets destroyed their opponent in the fourth-quarter for the second straight game, and Charlotte kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 122-114 win over Denver tonight at home.

In a game that featured 11 lead changes, Charlotte found a way to come out victorious in a must-win scenario. The Hornets played Clifford-ball tonight, giving themselves the best chance to win. 7 turnovers, and assisting on 26 of 40 made field-goals is impressive, and it proved to be enough tonight for the Hornets.

Nikola Jokic has to be a foreign government experiment, as he torched Charlotte in every way imaginable. Jokic finished with 26 points (11-16 FG), 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Jokic is so incredibly skilled, impacts the game offensively in literally every way possible, and has the potential to be one of the most impactful offensive big men this league has ever seen. He did everything that he could to propel Denver, but the time frame when he was on the bench late 3rd / early 4th changed this game. More on that shortly.

In the first three quarters tonight, Charlotte was simply trying to keep their head above water. Jokic and the Nuggets are one of the more lethal offensive teams in the league, and they displayed that for most of the night. Quarters 1-3 saw Denver shoot 55% from the floor and 50% from behind-the-arc.

Before going further, Jeremy Lamb’s crucial 14 minutes are more than deserving to mention. His 13 points (6-8 FG) were the only second-unit production that resembled any form of consistency for most of the night.

The final period was a much different story, and for the second straight game the 4th swung the tide for a desperate Hornets team. The term “Out-Of-Body-Experience” shouldn’t be thrown around lightly, but that’s exactly what Charlotte has done in the past two games. If you’ve watched this team for the first three quarters of the past two, you’d come to the conclusion that it’s simply not happening this season. But then, all of a sudden, it happens in the final period. Again tonight, the Hornets experienced an outlier that kept their season alive. Belinelli and Kaminsky were a combined 7-9 from the floor (6-10 3FG) in the 4th, and jump-started the offensive explosion. The Nuggets held an 8-point lead going into the final frame, but by the time that Jokic re-entered the game for Denver at the 8:36 mark in the 4th, the Nuggets had no idea what had hit them, and it was too late.

It was a drive-and-kick barrage from the Hornets in the 4th, and they surpassed the 35-point mark in the final period for the second straight game. Clifford eventually came back with MKG and Zeller (original starting unit) late in the 4th, but the floor spacing provided by Belinelli and Kaminsky is what changed the course of this game. Somehow, someway, the Hornets are still alive for a post-season birth.

With the Pacers loss in Toronto tonight, Charlotte is now just two games out of the final playoff spot in the East with six games remaining. The Hornets will now travel to Oklahoma City for a 3:00pm ET tip on Sunday afternoon. The Thunder are likely locked into the 6-seed in the West, but with some help could still pass the Clippers for 5th, so they’ll have plenty to play for as well.

Brace yourselves, we’re not done yet.

Game Highlights

Listen carefully for the “HELL NAW”.