Maybe Ricky Ledo couldn't concentrate with Patrick Ewing yelling up and down the sidelines. Whatever the reason, Ledo, the Mavericks' second round draft pick from 2013, couldn't get it going. He finished the game with just two makes on 16 shots.
Meanwhile, Ewing's barking fueled a concerted effort from the Hornets. Charlotte was paced early by Justin Brownlee who connected on all three of his first quarter attempts, including a 3-pointer. P.J. Hairston, who played with Dallas' D-League affiliate Texas Legends last season, followed Brownlee's lead in the second quarter pouring in 11 points, six of which came at the free throw line.
Cody Zeller also played well in the second quarter despite giving up a lot of mass to Bernard James. Zeller totaled seven points in the frame and ended the half with 11 points, making all five of his shot attempts.
The rout was on as Dallas shot just 36.7 percent and the Hornets led at the half 53-36. However, there were some bright moments for the Mavericks.
Yuki Togashi provided a spark off the bench knocking down a couple of 3-pointers on his way to eight points in the half. Togashi, a diminutive guard from Japan, proved to have quite the cheer section in the stands. There was a group of kids that would either yell "yoga" or "Yoda" when he touched the ball. Togashi's first name is Yuki, though. At least the enthusiasm seemed genuine.
In third quarter, James and Ivan Johnson began making concerted efforts to get to the rim with the ball. They came up empty handed more often than not as the Mavericks struggled to score at the rim all game. Despite this, Dallas pulled within nine points late in the third thanks to Gal Mekel. He scored nine points himself and kept his team within reach.
The Mavs cut the lead to five points on a Chris Goulding three followed by a Sarge lay-in and-one with just over five minutes left to play n the fourth. Goulding then hit another three to get Dallas within two at 73-71. Later, Goulding struck again from downtown, tying the game at 77. Mekel hit two free throws to give the Mavericks an 80-77 a few plays later.
Up three, Dallas' head coach Caleb Kanales began intentionally fouling. In the end, though, the Mavericks remarkable fourth quarter would come up just short. Charlotte's Roberto Nelson streaked down the court in the closing seconds. With the Hornets down two, Nelson lifted up from behind the arc and over a double team and drained a three as the buzzer sounded, giving the Hive an 82-81 victory.
Notes: Recently acquired Greg Smith was on the bench for Dallas but inactive. The Mavericks are not planning on playing him in the final game. Mekel led the Mavericks with 17 points. Goulding, James, and Togashi each scored 12 points. Ledo finished the game with nine points on 2-16 shooting. Ivan Johnson got ejected for some choice words to the referee, because of course.