|Date of game: 10/29/2014
Recap: Charlotte vs. Milwaukee
Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The buzz is indeed back in Charlotte.
Kemba Walker hit a pair of clutch jumpers with time winding down, the last coming with 5.1 seconds remaining in overtime to give the re-branded Hornets a historic 108-106 comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks at a raucous Time Warner Cable Arena.
Charlotte's first game since the former Bobcats reclaimed the Hornets name held by the city's initial NBA franchise was certainly one to remember, and Walker made sure. The standout point guard forced overtime by draining a tough 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation, then later capped a 26-point night with a successful step-back for the winning shot.
The Hornets overcame a 24-point third-quarter deficit to prevail, the largest comeback victory in club history.
"To be honest, I think (Milwaukee) played a lot better than we did," Hornets head coach Steve Clifford remarked. "I did like the fact that when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, at the end of the third and in overtime, we really tried hard to guard and we did a lot better. And guys made big plays."
Marvin Williams added 19 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 17 with eight rebounds to aid the rally, with Al Jefferson contributing 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee, coming off a league-worst 15-67 campaign, played well for much of the night under new head coach Jason Kidd before wilting down the stretch.
Brandon Knight totaled 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight rebounds in a losing cause, with Khris Middleton and O.J. Mayo each tallying 17 points for the Bucks.
Jabari Parker had a quiet NBA debut, however, managing just eight points and four rebounds in 37 minutes in the Milwaukee rookie and former Duke star's return to the Carolinas.
"It was everything I expected, two great teams going down to the wire," Parker said. "The better team won today, but we're going to get better."
The Hornets' official return to Charlotte was anything but a cause to celebrate at first, as a 13-0 Milwaukee run capped by a pair of Knight 3- pointers staked the Bucks to a seemingly commanding 74-50 lead with the third quarter not yet halfway through.
Charlotte slowly chipped away, however, pulling within 83-68 at the end of the third on Walker's 3-point play and getting the margin under double digits when Lance Stephenson fed Cody Zeller for a dunk to make the score 85-76 with 9 1/2 minutes remaining.
The Bucks were up by six with 1;25 to go, but Williams sank a 3-ball and Kidd- Gilchrist made 1-of-2 free throws after a Knight miss to trim the lead to 97-95 with 20.4 seconds showing.
Milwaukee had a chance to put it away when Middleton was fouled by Stephenson with 7.6 seconds left and the Bucks up 99-97, but he missed the first foul shot before hitting the second. That set the stage for Walker -- who struggled with his shot for much of the game -- to dribble to the top of the key and calmly bury a 26-footer that extended the game.
Neither team got ahead by more than two points in overtime, with the Hornets evening things at 106-106 on Gary Neal's one-handed layup with 44.6 seconds to play. After Parker misfired on a short jumper, Walker got the ball back in his hands out of a timeout and swished through a long two while pulling up.
"Those last-second, last-minute shots, I love those situations," Walker said. "I love to win games for my teammates. Those guys put me in the right situations to hit those shots, and I made a big one."
Middleton had an open look at a game-winning three as the clock ran down but was off the mark.
After Charlotte owned a slim 25-24 edge at the end of an evenly played opening quarter, the Bucks took control in the second behind their second unit, which outscored Charlotte's reserves 20-6 over the first 5 1/2 minutes of the period.
Mayo led the charge by dropping in eight points during the surge, the last three coming on a long transition jumper that put Milwaukee up by a 44-31 count nearing the midway mark of the frame.
The Bucks were up by as many as 14 points in the first half and carried a 57-46 lead into the break on the strength of 13 points from Mayo and 12 out of Middleton.Game Notes
The NBA's original franchise in Charlotte resided in the city from 1988-2002
before moving to New Orleans ... Stephenson, the Hornets' premier offseason
free-agent acquisition, posted 13 rebounds and eight assists but managed just
seven points on 3-of-12 shooting ... Walker ended 9-of-26 from the floor ...
The Hornets have now won six straight over the Bucks, who have lost in 10 of
their last 11 visits to Charlotte ... Jefferson recorded a double-double for a
10th straight regular-season game dating back to 2013-14 ... The Bucks were
1-6 in overtime games last season ... Milwaukee opened a season on the road
for a 30th consecutive year and is 15-15 in those games.