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Hornets-Heat Quickcap: Hornets rebound, take down Heat, 96-89

Charlotte regained some of their old form against their division rivals

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets looked like their old selves for the majority of the game, holding off a late Miami rally to beat the Heat 96-89. It was Charlotte's first regular season win over the Heat in more than four years, having lost their last 16 games against their division foes.

After their worst performance of the early season last night against New Orleans, the Hornets (2-3) responded with their best performance in their first five games. The defense held Miami (3-2), one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA, to below 90 points. In fact, it was the first time the Heat were held below 107 points this season. Charlotte broke the 95 point plateau, meaning Papa John's will be giving out buy one, get one free pizzas for the first time this year. The offense looked like their old selves again. Steve Clifford didn't have to lose his mind over repeated defensive lapses. It was a victory that the Hornets sorely needed, particularly with a tough road trip on the horizon.

Key Stats

Charlotte looked a lot like their old selves, especially on offense, just as Al Jefferson had his second double-double of the year, finishing with 28 points, 10 boards (including five offensive) and three blocks and 13-25 shooting. And remember all the talk of Kemba's struggles shooting in the first four games? He was the complete antithesis of that, finishing with 18 points on just six shots (SIX shots. SIX. Are you kidding me? That's efficiency) to go with seven assists on 5-6 shooting from the field (and 6-6 from the free throw line). Cody Zeller provided a huge spark off the bench, putting up 13 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes.

And we would be remiss if we did not mention the defense, which held Miami to below 40 percent shooting from the field and outrebounded their opponents by 13. They did nearly blow a 15 point lead in the fourth, but shhh. Let's focus on the good news.

Lance Watch

Lance Stephenson had another typical Charlotte Hornets Lance line, finishing with eight points, a team-high 13 rebounds and four assists, but there were real promising signs from the young star. Honestly, as soon as the shots start falling for Stephenson, all will be right in the world. He is playing solid defense, is always hustling, plays with the type of emotion fans love — except when it takes a turn for the worse, as it did tonight. Stephenson was called for a flagrant 1 foul on Mario Chalmers, but played excellent and under control after the foul. Tonight was the first time in a few games that Stephenson played in the fourth quarter, and I believe he played well enough to earn props and more playing time in crunch time.

What's Next

The Hornets host one more division foe, Atlanta, on Friday before they go on a four-game West Coast road trip, which includes the likes of Portland, Phoenix and Golden State. As I said, the win tonight was a much needed one for the team.