In an important game in the series, hoping to get off to a strong start, the Charlotte Hornets did the exact opposite as the Miami Heat hit just about every shot they took, winning by a score of 123 to 91.
Luol Deng had a throwback performance, scoring 31 points while only missing two shots from the floor, Dwyane Wade was able to get to the exact spots he wanted, and the Hornets never found an answer for Hassan Whiteside, allowing the Miami offense to score at will. The Heat shot .576 from the floor and .500 from three, countering what was quietly a solid performance by the Hornets offense, but one that just couldn't keep up with the Heat's torrid pace.
The first quarter went very poorly. Down by 19 after the opening frame, the Hornets looked totally lost on defense. The frontcourt combination of Al Jefferson and Frank Kaminsky was an absolute disaster defensively, letting Miami slashers get to the rim at will, and rotations to the corners to guard Heat shooters were often way too late. Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum gave the team its only offense, but nothing those two could have done would have made up for the porous defense.
Steve Clifford's rotations were called into question in the second quarter, keeping Kaminsky in for long stretches and running with a defensively-questionable lineup, with Troy Daniels, and putting Jeremy Lin on Dwyane Wade, which Wade used to his full advantage, utilizing his strength to back Lin down into the paint and getting easy buckets. Batum continued his great game on offense, but the Hornets gave up too many offensive rebounds, and Erik Spoelstra's gameplan continued to make mincemeat of the Hornets' defensive rotations. The Hornets gained two points in the scoring margin, but still found themselves down by a lot at the midway break.
The Heat got off to a quick start in the third quarter extending their lead to 24 points very quickly, and it stayed above 20 throughout the quarter. Walker started to hobble a bit early in the quarter, which was disconcerting, but his injury appeared unserious, as he alone led the offense in the third frame, with Batum losing some of his magic from the first half. The Heat were up 97-74 at the final quarter break.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, there wasn't much left that the Hornets could do to try to get back into this game. Some minor adjustments were made, but Clifford never fully committed to either going all-in on a comeback-oriented lineup or trying a new strategy in hopes of figuring out what might work for next game, and not much was accomplished. At least we found out that Jeremy Lamb didn't silently suffer a debilitating injury, so there's that.