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Multiple rallies from the Hornets on Tuesday fell short as the Nuggets handed Charlotte a third loss in the last four games, 117-112.
The Hornets fell behind 21 points in the first quarter behind fast starts from Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter, Jr. As quickly as they fell behind, they bounced back, though, as they eventually cut the lead to two points in the second period and only three points at the halftime break, 63-60.
The third quarter saw the Nuggets maintain control of the game and eventually build the lead to double digits once more early in the fourth quarter. Devonte’ Graham, though, then rattled off a string of 14-straight points for Charlotte to pull the hosts into the game one last time.
In the end, though, Graham’s heroics would not be enough as Denver held on late for the win. Graham did finish with 31 points, 19 of those coming in the fourth. Terry Rozier had 21 and Cody Zeller and Jalen McDaniels each had 15.
The Good: Devonte' Graham
In his first game since May 2 and just his second game this month, Graham returned from a lingering knee issue and provided some much needed stability to the rotation. While Brad Wanamaker provided solid minutes in Graham's absence, he doesn't provide the offensive punch Graham does and he showed it on Tuesday. After struggling from the field going into the fourth quarter, Graham exploded for 14 straight points in one span. He had 19 in the fourth in total and pulled Charlotte back into the game in the final period when it seemed like a lost cause.
The Bad: Composure
Tuesday's game wasn't the best officiated. It takes something particularly egregious to get head coach James Borrego ejected, as he did in the third quarter for the first time in his career. LaMelo Ball shortly followed that up with a technical. For a stretch in the third quarter after that, the Hornets lost their composure, turning the ball over repeatedly and letting Denver build the lead back to double digits. On a night when the Hornets made a run late to make it a competitive game, that stretch proved costly.
LaMelo Ball: Rebounding
LaMelo Ball struggled to score on the night, going 1-of-9 from the field and 0-of-3 from the 3-point line for five points total. However, he did manage to grab 12 rebounds, two off his career-high, and hand out seven assists. It was Ball that found Graham for one of the biggest 3-pointers of the night late in the fourth quarter, his final assist of the evening. Overall, though, it was a poor game from the rookie. He finished with five turnovers in 31 minutes and finished with a plus-minus of minus-1, a figure that improved dramatically in the final minutes after sharing the court with Graham during his explosion.