The team opened cold, shooting 32.1 percent from the field in the first quarter and 30.4 percent in the second quarter. The Heat led by seven points at the half.
Then, as we’ve come to expect, the Hornets made several huge runs in the third quarter. Uninspired defense in the first half became lockdown defense in the second. Guys started hitting shots. The Hornets went on an 11-0 run and a 9-0 run in the same quarter. Y’know, Hornets stuff.
Nicolas Batum put up yet another near triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and one block. Kemba Walker led the Hornets in scoring with 22 points on 20 shots. Not his greatest game, but he made them when they mattered most. We also got this wonderful gif out of it.
Oh Kemba Walker will be seeing this on highlights for all the wrong reasons for a long time to come. pic.twitter.com/kbjp94FUFO— Will Manso (@WillManso) December 30, 2016
The key to a Hornets win tonight was containing Hassan Whiteside, and the team did just that. Whiteside finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks — well below his season averages. Credit the Hornets with playing stellar defense on him, particularly in pick-and-roll coverage. Seldom was Whiteside able to find an open lane to the basket.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra began to adjust for this in the second half, electing to run small-small pick-and-pops instead. The Hornets covered them well, limiting the Heat to just 20 percent shooting from behind the arc in the second half. The Heat shot 53.8 percent from deep in the first half. The corners presented the Hornets with problems all night, and thankfully the Heat moved away from them at just the right time.
We need to talk about something, and you may not like it.
Guys, Frank Kaminsky is bad. He’s very bad.
It’s not like he’s incapable of being a good player — we’ve seen him put up 20-point games and abuse opposing defenses in the past. His defense is passable when he’s committed.
But whatever’s going on with him right now...I don’t know. He’s terrible. Kaminsky shot 1-of-11 from the field with at least half of those shots being wide open. Whiteside blew by him from 12 feet out for a layup.
This is becoming something of a trend for Kaminsky. Frank, if you’re reading this, we love you. We really do. You can get through this, buddy.
Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams had beautiful dunks on consecutive possessions in the third quarter.
Seriously, what is it with this team and third quarters? Maybe MJ has a stash of his secret stuff somewhere, who knows.
The Hornets needed this win badly and got it. They’re still not playing as cohesively as they were around this time last season, but we’re seeing bits and pieces of it now. It always helps when Batum is engaged and playing well.
The Hornets are 19-14 on the season now, and their final game of 2016 is on New Year’s Eve against the Cleveland Cavaliers. I wouldn’t blame you for skipping that game, honestly, and entering the new year on a high from this win against the Heat.
Things are looking up.