By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Charlotte Hornets’ resurgence came in the most perfect time in the first 13 games of the 2023 NBA season.
Entering their matchup against the Boston Celtics with a four-game losing skid, the Hornets stayed on the same page until the final buzzer to stun the best team in the Eastern Conference in overtime, 121-118, last November 21, 2023.
Aside from halting their dry spell and upsetting the mighty Boston squad, the Hornets also came back from an 18-point deficit, thanks to their improved shot selection in the crucial final quarter where they made their push.
Some Charlotte fans began to exit the arena when the Celtics already led by nine points, 108-99, with only 2:23 remaining in the game.
However, the Hornets flipped the switch in the final two minutes of regulation and ended the crucial sequence with a 9-3 run that forced another extra period.
LaMelo Ball was huge during that Hornets run as he scored five of their nine made points including the drive that sent the game into overtime.
Charlotte was already in desperation after trailing by nine points heading into the final two minutes but Ball’s heroics propelled them to a chance of stealing a win from the conference’s top dogs.
He first made a trey that kicked off their offensive comeback, dimed the ball to Mark Williams who converted a reverse deuce underneath, and sank a double-clutch layup that put the whole Charlotte crowd on their feet.
Ball continued his waxing-hot outing for the Hornets in overtime after scoring four points in the first two minutes that gave them a slight 112-111 lead.
The Celtics struck back after a Kristaps Porzingis putback but Gordon Hayward answered with a wide-open perimeter jumper to help them regain the cushion, 114-113.
Trailing by a point with only 59 seconds left, Jayson Tatum unloaded a silencer long-distanced bomb for another lead change in favor of the Celtics, 114-116.
Charlotte then decided to slow things down and execute a play that paid off dividends as Ball was able to find a cutting Hayward to equalize the affair at 116-all.
The Hornets survived the possession on the other end as Jaylen Brown missed a three-point shot from the left elbow with only 29 seconds remaining in overtime.
Steve Clifford, Charlotte’s chief mentor, then called for a timeout to set up a potential game-winning play. He ordered his wards to execute a pick-and-pop decoy between Ball and Miles Bridges which they organized to perfection as the returning forward drilled the clutch trey to give the Hornets a 119-116 lead.
Tatum had the chance to tie the ball game at 119-all after his attempt for a trey was whistled for a foul when the referees caught Hayward leaning towards his body.
Fortunately for the Hornets, Tatum missed his last shot at the charity stripe which led to a foul on the other end that sealed the deal for Charlotte.
Ball top-scored for the Hornets with 36 big points alongside nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and a block.
On the other hand, the Celtics got 45 markers from Tatum but went to waste as they failed to rack their winning streak to seven.