Hornets erase late deficit, beat Wizards in OT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A team has to steal a win or two during the course of an 82-game NBA season, and that’s precisely what the Charlotte Hornets did Wednesday night.
The Hornets rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation, then dominated in overtime for a 129-124 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Spectrum Center.
Dwight Howard had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb scored 24 points apiece, and all three made huge plays down the stretch.
Walker’s two free throws with two seconds left in regulation tied the score 114-114. Howard then blocked a jumper from the corner by Bradley Beal at the regulation buzzer to ensure overtime.
Walker hit a 3-pointer to give the Hornets the lead for good at 119-116 with 3:21 left in overtime, and then Lamb hit two key jumpers from there as the Hornets stretched the lead to as many as seven.
“That was a huge win,” Lamb said. “It was a team effort. We were down in the fourth and we just came together on both ends and it was a great win for us.
“It was exciting. The fans were amazing. It was a packed house. Like I said, we rallied together, it got loud and we were able to come back. We just stayed in attack mode the whole game. So that was a great overtime win. It feels good.”
The Hornets (8-9) won their third straight, all three on a three-game homestand that closed out Wednesday.
“You could tell, our guys were excited tonight,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “Washington is a top-four team in the East, deservedly so. Their advantage over us is they’ve played a lot of big games together. They’re very good.
“So to come back against them is a good win. You could tell in the locker room our guys felt good about it. Hopefully we can build on it.”
Howard was 10 of 13 from the field, following a monster 25-point, 20-rebound effort in a win over Minnesota on Monday. Lamb was 9 of 17 from the field and was a plus-26 in the plus-minus when he was on the floor.
Walker hit three 3-pointers and was 5 of 6 from the line on a night when the Hornets made 33 of 40 free throws.
Washington shot 22 free throws and made 17.
The Hornets also got 12 points apiece from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky, and 11 from Michael Carter-Williams.
The Wizards (10-8) have lost three of their last four.
John Wall led the Wizards with 31 points and 11 assists. Beal finished with 22 points, but his missed free throw with 9.3 seconds left in regulation could have pushed the lead to three at the time, before Walker’s free throws.
Markieff Morris added 14 points, Mike Scott 13 and Otto Porter Jr. 12.
“We had the game won, but give them a lot of credit,” Wall said. “They’re a team that never stops fighting. We know that for sure. They just came and took the game from us.”
The Wizards led 111-102 after Wall’s jumper with 3:33 left in regulation but could not close out the game. Charlotte scored the next six points to get back in it.
“In this league, a nine-point deficit in the last four minutes is nothing,” Clifford said. “I know when we’re up nine with four minutes left, we don’t think it’s over.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said, “We couldn’t get stops at the end of the game. We could not get stops.
“They were getting offensive rebounds, getting to the free throw line. And then we missed a lot of good shots, I thought. We just made too many mistakes down the stretch defensively to give them easy buckets.”
NOTES: Hornets G Nicolas Batum reinjured his left elbow and did not play in the second half. Batum missed the first 12 games of the season after elbow surgery. The Hornets had no injury update after the game. ... This was the first of four meetings between the Southeast Division rivals in the regular season. The Wizards won three of four last season. ... The Hornets were without G Julyan Stone (strained left hamstring). ... The Wizards continue to be without G Sheldon Mac (left Achilles surgery). ... Wizards G Bradley Beal came into the game 11th in the NBA in scoring at 24.2 ppg, and Hornets G Kemba Walker was 14th at 22.9. ... The Hornets were closing out a three-game homestand. They will play at Cleveland on Friday. ... The Wizards were closing out a three-game road trip. They return home to host Portland on Saturday.