Re-living the dramatic ending in Charlotte as shorthanded Hornets edge Kings

Leave it to the NBA to entertain on a random night in the middle of December in a matchup between the Kings and the Hornets.

Now, for some context, as many as seven players were ruled out for Charlotte, mostly due to COVID-19 health and safety procols, including starters in LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier.

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Despite those absences, the Hornets came out on top at the final buzzer, 124-123, against a Kings team who had won three straight and five of their last seven. 

“It’s probably the most proud I have been of a team in my four years here,” Hornets head coach James Borrego said postgame. “I love this group.”

It was a wild and dramatic ending at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, so take a closer look at how the momentum swayed through the final seconds. 

60 seconds left: Hornets lead 120-119

Hornets battled back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit – the Kings largest lead of the game – to take the lead for a majority of the fourth quarter. However, they couldn’t pull away and the game was a close affair late. 

Miles Bridges and rookie James Bouknight were the duo that stepped up for the Hornets. While Bridges finished with 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, the rookie provided the much-needed spark off the bench, scoring 24 points in just 25 minutes of action. 

53.9 seconds left: Kings lead 121-120

After a defensive stop, the Kings ran down the floor but had their options cut out and Tyrese Haliburton got stuck in the corner with the ball. Sacramento was forced to take a timeout but it worked in its favor.

Coming out of a timeout, De’Aaron Fox gave the Kings the lead with a key midrange jumper.

34.2 seconds left: Hornets lead 123-121

Cody Martin saves the Hornets’ ugly possession with a clutch triple to put his team back on top. It was his lone 3-pointer of the game and wouldn’t be the last time he would make an impact. 

20.2 seconds left: Kings lead 123-123 

Fouled on a drive to the basket, Fox was fouled and he knocked down both free throws to tie things up with 20.2 seconds left. The two made free throws gave Fox 31 points for the night, his fourth 30-point game of the season and second-consecutive. It also made him a perfect 8-of-8 from the line for the game – a key stat to note going forward. 

5.5 seconds left: Hornets lead 124-123

Martin came to the rescue once again. Right under the rim, his pump-fake gave him a chance at a 3-point play which could have put the game out of hand. 

However, as he lined up for a chance to put the Hornets up126-123, the Kings challenged the foul call and the review was successful. There was concrete evidence that the foul was before the shot attempt and as a result, the made field goal did not count. 

Martin once again lined up for two free throws, but this time, it was to give Charlotte a 125-123 lead. However, he went 1-of-2 and that was the first of two errors he made that gave the Kings a chance at stealing the game.

Sacramento took the ball out and Martin quickly fouled Fox under the assumption that the Hornets had a foul to give. 

The problem was… they didn’t. Fox, who was perfect from the line until then, had a chance to win the game with 2.4 seconds left. 

Just when it looked like the Kings were going to come away with the win, the unexpected happened. Fox missed both free throws, but Marvin Bagley III had a chance to play hero with a tip-in but missed out on the rebound as Sacramento botched its chance to earn a victory.

Final buzzer: Hornets win 124-123

The frantic home victory was a great sound-off to the Hornets’ fans before the team heads out for a six-game Western Conference road trip. 

On the flip side, the loss is bound to leave a sour taste in the mouth for the Kings, who will suit up in fewer than 24 hours in Cleveland. 

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