The Hornets pulled out a win late against the Miami Heat 78-76 on Wednesday night, in what was a poor offensive showing on both sides. The Hornets shot only 33.8 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from the 3-point line, but the Heat weren’t much better, going 34.5 percent and 27.8 percent, respectively.
Heat stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who are usually efficient, combined for 15-of-41 shooting. That allowed the Hornets to squeeze out a win despite Kemba Walker making 4 of 17 from the field and blowing a double-digit lead going into the fourth quarter. The Hornets also had trouble hitting free throws at the end of the game, but hit just enough to get the victory.
That’s the phrase of this game: Just enough.
The question is whether or not it will be enough moving forward. At the time of writing this, the Hornets victory pulled them in a tie for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Brooklyn Nets win their late game against the Sacramento Kings, they will remain a half-game ahead of Charlotte; if they lose, Charlotte will take sole possession of the 8th seed.
In the East, doing just enough might be good enough for the 7th or 8th spot, but it definitely won’t be good enough to be competitive in those series. The Hornets showed tonight they can be the great defensive team they were last season. However, the offense remains a work in progress.
Things were good early on — Stephenson, Walker, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were all being aggressive and getting to the rim to either finish or dish off. Bismack Biyombo was a recipient of a couple nice passes and finished with an impressive 12-point, 12-rebound double-double. MKG and Cody Zeller also helped the Hornets dominate the boards — hey out-rebounded the Heat 56-41 — but even the 20 offensive rebounds weren’t enough to generate good offensive numbers.
Al Jefferson had his moments of taking over the paint, but is obviously working his way back into his game. Lance Stephenson is in the same boat and played 21 minutes off the bench. When those two guys get fully healthy, the Hornets will have to really figure out their offensive identity. Do they build around Jefferson post-ups or let Kemba, Lance, and MKG slash and create on the perimeter?
The good news? The Hornets' defense has been good enough, and that continued tonight, to be a playoff team. And perhaps that’s all we can ask of this Hornets squad that has a lot of new faces and has been unlucky with injuries. It’s just good to be talking about the playoffs seriously again.
Oh, and just for fun, check out Chalmers here giving up an open shot under the basket to try to win the game with a 3-point fade-away. The Hornets won’t get this fortunate every night, but we can sigh in relief at this one.