Nate Hinton’s 11 points in the fourth, including a game-winning three, led the Cleveland Charge to a 116-115 win over the College Park Skyhawks.
The Charge were forced to play without the services of their leading scorer and starting point guard Sharife Cooper who missed tonight’s game with an ankle injury. This was on top of being down backup point guard Didi Louzada. As a result, the Charge got off to a disjointed offensive start as they found themselves down 10 a few minutes into the game.
Like yesterday, the Charge fought back to take the lead before relinquishing it in the fourth. This felt like a repeat as Skyhawks forward Armoni Brooks buried numerous deep threes in the final frame. But, seemingly every time he did, his former college teammate was there to answer with a three of his own.
“So many days in practice [he made shots like that]. We went to college together, so some of those shots I was pissed he got off,” said Hinton with a laugh afterwards when asked about Brooks’s shots. “He’s a way better shooter than me. It’s just the competitive nature. We’ve had so many days. We’ve been competing back and forth since when we were in college. It’s no different. He was talking, I was talking back to him. It was definitely a good feeling. A little nostalgic feeling for us.”
Cleveland had the ball down 4 with 36 seconds left. They had a tough time getting the ball inbounded before getting it to Isaiah Mobley who promptly found Sam Merrill. Merrill was fouled and made both free throws to make it a two-point game.
Brooks missed his only shot of the fourth to give the Charge a chance down 2 with 8 seconds left. Chandler Vaurdin inbounded the ball, got it back, and found a lane to the basket thanks to a hard screen from Mobley. The strong side defender helped, which allowed Hinton to hit the game-winning three.
This was somewhat of a redemption moment for Hinton. He found himself in a similar situation this preseason against the Philadelphia 76ers, but wasn’t able to hit from the left corner. Today, he was.
“The same corner, the same pass,” said Hinton when asked about the similarities. “Well, wasn’t the same pass. Sharife was out of bounds when he made it. But, I didn’t think about it. They want me to be a corner specialist, so I do my job, put the work in every day, and don’t think twice.”
Hinton played the ideal game for his skillset. He was disruptive on the defensive end while canning a career high 7 threes on 9 attempts. He finished with 23 points on 8-10 shooting.
“I take pride in that,” said Hinton when asked about being the energy, defensive stopper. “Some days I’m like ‘man, I want to be a scorer.’ But it’s just the role on the team. Everyone does their thing. It’s something I’m comfortable with. It’s how I came into the league and how I’m going to stick when the time comes for me at the next level. They pay guys to score, but the guys that come in, the three-and-D guys, who do everything are the ones that stick.”
While Hinton stole the spotlight in the fourth, it was a complete team effort in the win. Vaudrin stepped up taking on the primary point guard responsibilities. He played 40 minutes and finished with 15 points, 14 boards, 6 assists and 2 turnovers in the win.
Mobley also handled some of the playmaking duties as he contributed a game high 7 assists to go along with 25 points on 10-19 shooting with 5 rebounds. The offense was forced to run through him in the post at various times tonight. He more than stepped up as he continually made the right play on the offensive end leading to easy baskets for his teammates.
Merrill contributed 19 points and Jamorko Pickett 17 in the win.
Up next: The Charge have more than a week off before heading on the road to Mississauga to take on the Raptors 905.