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Quickcap: Hornets drop close game to Heat, 94-93

The Hornets' losing streak continues as the Heat erase a late deficit to get a home win in this Southeast Division matchup.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After a fourth quarter that saw the Hornets unravel quite a bit in the last few minutes (stop me if you’ve heard this before), Charlotte ended up extending their losing streak to five games with a 94-93 loss to the Miami Heat.

Al Jefferson finished with a double-double and the team took advantage of Miami’s subpar ball-handling with nine steals, but it wasn’t enough to match Luol Deng’s 26 points on 10-14 shooting and Mario Chalmers’ 20 bolstered by nine free throws. The Hornets did get a chance to win at the end of the game, but Kemba Walker wasn’t able to get the foul call he was looking for on a late jump shot, and Al Jefferson missed a buzzer-beating tip-in attempt.

The first quarter further exposed the Hornets’ woes shooting from the perimeter, as they made only one of their seven three-point attempts in the first quarter. Thankfully, they went into the first break only down by one, led by their high efficiency shooting from inside, with ten points in the paint. That lack of spacing affected their offensive versatility, though, and they weren’t able to get any easy looks at the rim, so credit to the ball movement on some nice passes from Walker and Lance Stephenson.

The Heat increased their lead to nine in the second quarter, taking advantage of some Charlotte defensive breakdowns and miscommunication. And while the interior defense was an issue in the first quarter, the perimeter became the point of concern later on, allowing the Heat to shoot 6-9 from behind the arc in the first half, with Luol Deng adding 19 points on 8-10 shooting. This would have been a lot worse had Josh McRoberts’s long attempt at the end of the half come a split-second before the buzzer, rather than after it.

The Hornets came out running after the halftime intermission, as they turned three straight Miami turnovers (including two steals from Walker) into seven straight points to open the third frame. Walker also added nine points during the quarter, and between his efforts, some improved scoring from Stephenson, and an all-around quality game by Jefferson, the Hornets were able to double up the Heat during the third quarter, and went into the final period leading by five.

Stephenson received limited playing time due to foul trouble, but when on the court played a lot better than most of what we’ve seen from him this year, finishing with [Lance]. Cody Zeller played very well at both ends of the court, adding double digits off the bench as the sparkplug for an injury-depleted second unit. Gary Neal, as well, contributed some clutch shots and a pair of much-needed threes.