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Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Sunday’s home game vs. Phoenix Suns

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Sunday’s 101-97 Hornets’ overtime home loss to the Phoenix Suns that dropped Charlotte to 23-22 overall:

… A late rally forced overtime as Charlotte was pursuing he chance to get three games over .500 for the first time since the 2015-16 season. It also led coach James Borrego to abandon his usual rotation and rest pattern; Three Hornets starters – P.J. Washington (44), Terry Rozier (44) and Gordon Hayward (41) – surpassed 40 minutes of playing time. “Unfortunately, I played those guys too much,” Borrego said. “I was going for it. I thought we had some rhythm with that group.”

… Charlotte had two second half surges. The Hornets trailed 64-50 with 7:11 left in the third quarter before rallying within 74-66, then a game-closing 14-2 surge tied the score at 90 and forced overtime. “Just being aggressive,” said Devonte’ Graham, whose scored 16 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. “We were keeping our spirit and keeping our fight going.”

… Borrego was eager to see the NBA’s postgame report because he felt Phoenix center Deandre Ayton touched a potential game-winning 3-point try by Graham at the regulation buzzer. “I thought it was a goal tend from my angle,” Borrego said. “We’l see what the report says later tonight.”

… Rozier added 22 points and 10 rebounds, Miles Bridges 18 points and 12 rebounds, Hayward 15 points and six rebounds and Washington 12 rebounds.

… Bridges had another series of highlight reel slam dunks that delighted the of crowd that was limited to 3,850. “At the end of the day, if we don’t get the win, none of those highlights matter,” Bridges said.

… Borrego was thrilled with his team’s defensive effort as it held Phoenix to 35.4 percent shooting overall and 14 fourth quarter points while rallying from a 16-point deficit to force overtime. “That’s a helluva team we played,” Borrego said. “I like where our defense is right now.”

… Two days after leading Friday’s win over Miami, Malik Monk was out with right foot soreness. In his place, the Hornets used Caleb Martin for three minutes and recent trade acquisition Brad Wanamaker for four minutes.

… Devin Booker’s game-high 35 points led Phoenix (31-14), which has the second-best record in the Western Conference. Ayton added 14 points and 14 rebounds.

… Winston-Salem’s Chris Paul had 16 points and moved into 51st all-time among NBA scorers. He surpassed another North Carolinian, former South Mecklenburg High and University of North Carolina star Walter Davis, to do so.

What’s next: The Hornets start a six-game road trip on Tuesday at Washington (7 p.m.). The trip also includes Thursday at Brooklyn (7:30 p.m.) Friday at Indiana (8 p.m.), next Sunday at Boston (6 p.m.), April 7 at Oklahoma City (8 p.m.) and April 9 at Milwaukee (9 p.m.). “We’ve seen a six-game road trip before,” Borrego said. “We’ve got to go play and we’ve got to go compete.”