What a thriller at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.
The Phoenix Suns entered this contest at an NBA-best 20-6 since the start of February, and it appeared as though they were going to cruise their way to an easy victory over the Charlotte Hornets to keep that hot streak going.
The Hornets have been one of the toughest teams to put away all season and they showcased exactly that, putting up a fiesty comeback to make life difficult for one of the best teams in the NBA.
Trailing by 12 points with just over five minutes remaining in the game, the Hornets came surging back behind a flurry of tough buckets from Devonte' Graham. Charlotte would go on a 14-2 run in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter, and it was Graham's personal 8-0 run that willed his team to the brink of victory in regulation.
🐝 8-0 DEVONTE' GRAHAM RUN to force OT on League Pass! 🐝 pic.twitter.com/uCDTwEc18b- NBA (@NBA) March 28, 2021
Charlotte has been outstanding in close games this season, owning the league's second-best winning percentage in the clutch - which is described as games within five points in the last five minutes - with a 15-5 record (.750 win%) prior to this game.
The only team with a higher winning percentage in the clutch? The first-place Philadelphia 76ers, with a 19-6 record (.760 win%).
Graham had a solid look from beyond the arc to try and win the game at the buzzer, which would have seen his Hornets surpass the Sixers for the best win percentage in the clutch in the NBA. When his game-winning attempt fell off the mark, Charlotte had to try and maintain thier momentum going into overtime.
However, with All-Star guard Devin Booker entering overtime with 30 points, it was going to be a tall task to keep this Suns team down. The Hornets struggled to defend without fouling, as Phoenix would only make one field goal in the overtime period. Aside from a clutch 3-ball from Mikal Bridges, the Suns scored eight of their 11 points at the free throw line, with Booker and Chris Paul doing all of the damage to help lead their team to victory.
Booker would finish with a game-high 35 points, going 11-for-12 from the charity stripe to make up for an otherwise inefficient game.
📚 @DevinBook's 35 PTS lead the @Suns to victory in overtime!#WeAreTheValley pic.twitter.com/UbVp0LjDRl- NBA (@NBA) March 28, 2021
Graham scored 16 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to give Charlotte a fighting chance, but he missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go that sealed the game's fate.
Although the Hornets' comeback came up short, there was no lack of entertainment as they continue to establish themselves as a true playoff hopeful in the East. The Suns being able to fend off Charlotte's late push and give this battle-tested team another impressive road win only further solidifies themselves as a championship contender, now only 3.0 games back from the Utah Jazz for the No. 1 seed in the West.
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