The Charlotte Hornets came up short against the Miami Heat, 110-99, in a game they had to win. While not mathematically eliminated, they are virtually out of the playoffs. Nicolas Batum led the team with 24 points and seven assists, while Goran Dragic led all scorers with 33 points.
Miami won the first quarter by getting hot from beyond the arc, knocking down 6-9. Dragic was the early leader for the visitors, setting the tone with two early 3’s in route to eight points. The Heat went up by as much as eight, but Charlotte managed to cut that in half by the end of the quarter.
Frank Kaminsky stepped up in second quarter, scoring seven points in 9 minutes. He attacked the hoop aggressively, finishing a number of tough layups. The Hornets hung around, despite a continued barrage of 3-pointers from the Heat. They lead 42-35 with 5:26 remaining, the Hornets scored seven straight to tie the game. Leads then swapped back and forth the rest of the quarter.
James Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining giving his team a four point lead, but Marvin Williams made a half court shot following the inbounds to cut it to one.
The Heat started the second half with two more 3-pointers, but the Hornets hung around thanks to seven quick points from Batum.
A scuffle ensued between Hassan Whiteside and Cody Zeller three minutes into the quarter, which resulted in a technical foul for Whiteside. It brought the Hornets within two, but then sparked a 12-0 Miami run over the next three minutes, with Whiteside scoring six straight, followed by 3-pointers from Josh Richardson and Dragic.
Miami lead by as much as 17 in the third, led a continued strong effort from Dragic, who had 29 points on 12-17 shooting through three quarters.
The Hornets trailed by 13 heading into the fourth, but a 7-2 run cut the deficit to eight. It was short lived, though, as Miami five straight to push their lead to 13 again. Miami lead by double digits for much of the quarter, continuing to shoot well from beyond the arc. Charlotte’s offense couldn’t force a late run, and Miami ran away with the win.
Kemba Walker was held to 18 points on 6-17 shooting, and looked visibly frustrated as shots didn’t fall and contact on shot attempts drew no foul calls.
Last night’s problems continued into tonight, but two-fold. Miami, a team that averages 9.8 made 3-pointers a game, shot 21-40 from beyond the arc. Add in another poor third quarter, this time outscored 34-22, and here we are.
Even as the Hornets found life late this season, it always felt they were too far out of it. The margin of error was small, with these past two nights coming down as the deciding factor. Having lost both, their fate is virtually set.