The Hornets are not a team to mess around with these days. They showed that they can play with the best in the league even without LaMelo Ball. They became a problem from tip-ball to the final horn. Both Teams were unable to really get it going from three but the offensive rebounds and turnovers were the story of the game.
When the Suns looked like they had the game in hand, a turnover or a offensive rebound giving the Hornets another chance at the rim kept them in the game to the very end. A late run by the Hornets forced the game into overtime.
Overtime for the Suns isn’t the worst thing, but a game that should have been over. The Suns were able to gather a couple buckets to pull this one out.
The Suns were looking to get things going from three early but started the game 1-6 with Devin Bookers only made shot. Trailing early on in the game 13-11 Booker and Deandre Ayton were the only players to hang a crooked number in the box score for points.
Mikal Bridges saw the game early on the defensive end of the court with two early steals and also on the defensive end with three assists. Finding Ayton at the rim over and over was an excellent watch. But the Hornets were able to hang on to a 21-17 lead with Terry Rozier taking advantage of mismatches and going 2-3 from three to start the game.
Even when cold from three, the Suns continued to shoot it from down-town. They finished the first quarter shooting 3-12 from three, and the Hornets shooting 4-11. The Hornets shot 52.4% from the field, and the Suns finished at 45.8%. Both teams showed what they do best in sharing the ball as the Suns had seven assists and the Hornets had eight assists with the Hornets taking a 29-26 lead into the 2nd quarter.
The second unit for the Suns began the 2nd quarter with more attention towards the rim and getting to the foul line. Cam Payne looked like the perfect leader for a bruising line-up including Dario Saric and Torrey Craig. What Saric does well, Craig does better.
With the 11-0 Suns run, the lead fell back into the good guys hands 35-34. Forcing turnovers and moving the ball forced the Hornets to try to slow things down and take better care of the ball.
Offensive boards were a major issue for the Suns. The Hornets were sitting at nine offensive rebounds midway through the 2nd quarter leading to timeout by the Suns.
The first half was a great match-up for the Suns. A physical game where everything was earned early. With the three point shot not falling for the Suns and focus on limiting the offensive rebounds by the Hornets, the Suns have only a few things to sure up heading into the the locker room in a tie game at 49 each.
Starting the 3rd quarter, the Suns were finding Ayton under the rim. And why not? Ayton showed in this game that the ball remained high and his shot towards the rim went up quickly. That opened up a lot more for the Suns offense as they started the second half on a 9-0 run.
7:22 to go in the 3rd quarter the Hornets were still sitting at 49 points for the game. The Suns went up another notch on defense and the peskiness began to seep in. Jae Crowder and Miles Bridges of the Hornets began to get into it. Their own little battle began to get things heated on the court.
Two Booker free-throws later and the Suns were on a 15-1 run.
A spark for the Hornets team came after the flagrant foul by Miles Bridges. The three wasn’t falling for the Hornets, but he hustle under the rim for second chance points but the Suns were still able to distant themselves. The hustle was there from the Hornets but the efficiency from the free throw line and second chance attempts were poor.
Booker was a little pissed off in the 3rd quarter, and a pissed off Booker is good if he is still playing team basketball. Launching threes didn’t look like the answer from Booker who started to move the ball around and getting some of the bench more involved in the game. Also, getting the line on mismatches became very effective for Booker.
But then the turnovers start fort he Suns ending the 3rd quarter. Luckily the Suns began to calm down and control the ball. The only thing the Hornets needed to take control of the game was for the Suns to give them a chance with turnovers.
A completed three quarters has the Suns up 76-67.
The focus in the fourth quarter was to blow the Hornets out, but nothing was coming easy. The Suns were about to grab a couple offensive rebounds and put-back attempts, then then the Hornets were able to match. The Suns would force a turnover and the the Hornets would do the same. A blow-out win is something the Suns have to really earn.
Miles Bridges would not go away in sneaking around the rim for throw-downs. Mikal Bridges wouldn’t go away either doing everything he can to take the a ball away and find the open man on drives to the rim
Craig showed up today to help the Suns grab the important defensive and offensive rebounds.
Turnovers again by the Suns? Yep, but Booker was able to create his own shot and was unstoppable.
The Hornets were able to knock down their threes as the Suns were struggling to make easy buckets underneath. A tie game with :33 left to go in the game as Devonte Graham hit his second three in a row but misses the game winner and sends the game into overtime.
Mikal Bridges was able to step up for the Suns in overtime to knock down a big three and continue to grab big offensive rebounds giving the Suns a 101-97 victory.