Recap/Analysis: LaMelo Ball scores 36 as Hornets down Celtics in overtime

LaMelo Ball scored 36 points, including the game tying bucket to send the game into overtime while Miles Bridges made three big plays in overtime as the Charlotte Hornets downed the league best Boston Celtics 121-118.

Summary

The Hornets made a change and started Miles Bridges in place of PJ Washington. The change put extra ball handling and offensive aggression on the floor, and the Hornets benefited from it right away. They played fast and confidently to start the game. LaMelo Ball put in an entry for pass of the season to give the people what they came to see.

The Hornets went stride for stride with the Celtics until Payton Pritchard of all people hit four 3-pointers to open up a lead for the Celtics.

The rest of the Celtics matched Pritchard’s heat level in the second quarter as they busted open a 16 point lead in a few minute’s time. Jayson Tatum feasted like he usually does against the Hornets and led the way with 16 points in the first half of the second quarter alone. PJ Washington found his shooting stroke and made a couple of threes to stem the tide a bit. LaMelo Ball led a run to pull the Hornets within six, but Tatum finished with one more flurry to give him 31 first half points and the Celtics an 11 point lead at the break.

The Hornets came to play to start the second half. After a couple of LaMelo Ball buckets, the Hornets had a chance to take an early second half lead, but a Miles Bridges three drew back iron. They went bucket for bucket with the Celtics all third quarter long and went into the fourth quarter only down six.

The Celtics started the fourth quarter with their star trio on the bench, but the Hornets couldn’t take advantage. After pulling to within two points, the Hornets went cold against the Celtics bench. They were left to make the uphill climb against the Celtics best shot, and they did it. LaMelo Ball with a sprinkling of Gordon Hayward rallied the Hornets late. They got the stops they needed, then a tough LaMelo layup to tie the game with a lot of contact from Jrue Holiday. It was a 9-0 run to close the fourth quarter and send the game into overtime.

The overtime period was electrifying. LaMelo scored the first four Hornets points of the overtime period and gave them the lead. Gordon Hayward restored the lead with a free throw line jumper. Jayson Tatum hit another three after a scramble drill off an offensive rebound to put the Celtics up two. You almost expected the Hornets to fold there, but LaMelo found Hayward on another backdoor cut to tie the game. After a Celtics miss, Miles Bridges of all people hit a late clock three to put the Hornets three. Tatum was gifted three free throws to try to tie the game, but he missed the third, and it was rebounded by Bridges again. After a pair of Hayward free throws, Bridges stole the ensuing Celtics inbound pass to end the game.

The Good

LaMelo Ball, again. Whenever the Hornets needed a spark, he provided it with his scoring or key passes inside. He finished with 36 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. He made the game tying bucket to send the game to overtime and got the run started in overtime. Even with how well he was playing, he played within himself and continued to find teammates for big buckets. An outstanding performance from an outstanding player.

Miles Bridges struggled offensively, but his presence as a secondary play maker and rebounder had been sorely missed. He grabbed 15 defensive rebounds, some in heavy traffic, and dished out five assists. But most importantly, he hit the go ahead three late in overtime, grabbed a super tough rebound after Jayson Tatum missed a game tying free throw, and then stole the inbound to seal the game at the end. It was a heck of a return to the starting lineup.

PJ Washington and Gordon Hayward got their respective grooves back. Washington scored 15 off the bench and was key in the Hornets sticking around early in the game when the Celtics tried to run and hide. Hayward played phenomenal defense on Tatum in the fourth quarter and teamed with LaMelo Ball to score most of the Hornets key points down the stretch. He almost quietly finished second on the team with 20 points.

Mark Williams was presence on the glass. He gobbled up 16 rebounds, eight offensive, and made life difficult for the Celtics defensively. He had a big block on a switch on Payton Pritchard late. He finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds, and the Hornets were +31 with him on the court.

The Bad

The lack of shooting on the Hornets bench was a complete liability. Bryce McGowens was the biggest culprit. Whenever he was in the game, the Celtics would guard him with their center, who would float and leave McGowens unattended on the perimeter. He hoisted up six virtually uncontested 3-pointers and made only one of them. It was not a coincidence that the Hornets were -17 in his 14 minutes on the court.

What’s Next

Now the Hornets can beat anybody. They’re back at it on Wednesday against the Wizards for the third time already this season.

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