The Charlotte Hornets exploded with 44 points in the fourth quarter in a 110-106 victory to end the Toronto Raptors' six-game winning streak and remain in the playoff race.
After being held to 16 points in the third quarter and down by as many as 11 points, the Hornets entered the third quarter trailing 74-66.
The deficit was erased with a 16-8 run to tie the game up at the 7:47 mark of the final frame. With 2:15 remaining in the game, Toronto led 100-98. Charlotte would outscore Toronto 12-6 the rest of the way to seal the victory.
Hornets head coach Steve Clifford believes that the key to the team's fourth quarter performance was knocking down most of their shots.
"We hit a bunch of threes. Coach (Pat) Riley always says it's a make or miss league, and we had eight threes in the fourth," said Clifford after the victory. "We got a couple of stops when we needed it but at the end of the day in the biggest possessions we got some open threes and knocked them in," he continued.
During the final period, the team shot a blistering 77.8 percent (14-for-18) from the floor, including 80.0 percent (8-for-10) from beyond the arc.
All-Star guard Kemba Walker was a big part of the final frame, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the final 5:03 of the game after managing only eight points on 16.7 percent (3-for-18) shooting in the first three quarters.
"We know how he is, he is courageous and whether he's making or missing, he wants the ball late in the game and that's when he's at his best," said Clifford of Walker's ability to make plays when it counts.
Besides Walker, four other Hornets finished in double-digits. Guard Marco Belinelli led the team with 21 off the bench, forward Marvin Williams added 18, swingman Nicolas Batum scored 15, and center Frank Kaminsky finished with 13.
With the win, Charlotte improves their record to 34-41 on the season and has won five of their last seven games. After starting the season with a 19-14 record, Charlotte has slipped from playoff contention with a 10-25 record from Dec. 31 to Mar. 15 and currently sits in eleventh place.
They trail eighth place Indiana by three games for the final playoff spot with seven games remaining. Six of their final seven games are against teams currently in a playoff spot, including No. 5 Atlanta, No. 6 Milwaukee and No. 7 Miami.
Clifford hopes his team can carry over their fourth quarter performance the rest of the season to give them a chance of reaching the playoffs for a second straight season.
"We hope so, we're going to need them to," Clifford said. "If you look at these last seven games, we're basically playing playoff competition every night. The stakes are higher and we need everyone to play well," he concluded.