In what could be described as a Christmas Eve miracle, the Charlotte Hornets outscored the Denver Nuggets by 25 points in the 4th quarter to steal a game on the road. Charlotte got off to a decent start in the first quarter, but then fell behind in the next two quarters before an incredible 4th quarter surge. The Hornets were down 90-71 with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The bench was spectacular in the 4th quarter and closed the game out while four starters sat and cheered from the bench. This was the type of win the Hornets needed on the road to bring some holiday cheer as they return home to Charlotte where they have a much more favorable schedule after Christmas. Let’s look at some observations from this game
The Spark Plug:
When Ish Smith entered the game in with 2:48 in the 3rd quarter he brought an energy that was infectious and helped lead the comeback. Ish only scored nine points and four assists, but it was the constant pressure he put on the Nuggets’ defense that turned the game around. His drives helped set up his teammates for good looks and Ish would hit the dagger three off of superb ball movement by the Hornets to seal the game. Smith’s spot in the rotation has been inconsistent, but like a true pro he stayed ready and took advantage of the moment when he got an opportunity.
Kelly Oubre, Jalen McDaniels & PJ Washington Brought the Team Back:
This trio was vital in the Hornets’ come-back. PJ Washington hit three big threes, McDaniels had some explosive dunks on Nuggets’ star Nikola Jokic, and Oubre was steady. McDaniels would finish with 12 points, PJ with 13 points, and Oubre scored 23 points. PJ also did a hell of a job guarding Jokic, even though he was undersized against the 2021 league MVP. Charlotte will need this trio to keep playing well as they enter the new year.
A Favorable 2022:
Charlotte has played 22 of its 34 games so far this season on the road and have made two long west coast trips. Considering the covid outbreak and their tough schedule, the Charlotte Hornets aren’t in a bad position at 17-17, especially given all the uncertainty in the NBA this season. But one thing that has been certain so far is that Charlotte has been very good at the Spectrum Center and they will have plenty of home games the rest of the season. Charlotte’s two farthest road games left are Oklahoma City and Minnesota.
The Hornets enter the Christmas holiday mostly healthy and ready to make a push. Charlotte won eight out of nine before they started a five-game road trip that led to their Covid outbreak. As this team tries to find the continuity it had earlier in the season, they’ll have the benefit of doing it at the Spectrum Center.