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Hornets hold on to beat the Heat, 94-90, in Summer League

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Dwayne Bacon and Willy Hernangomez scored 22 points each as the Hornets improved to 2-0.

2018 NBA Summer League - Las Vegas - Oklahoma City Thunder v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Miami Heat, 94-90, to improve to 2-0 in the Las Vegas Summer League. Willy Hernangomez and Dwayne Bacon led the Hornets with 22 points each.

Devonte’ Graham and Hernangomez were involved early. Graham found the big man on multiple occasions, including one lob that Willy was able to finish with one hand.

The Hornets found points easy to come by in the first half. Bacon was aggressive attacking the hoop, and finished the half with 13 points, the most on either team. With Malik Monk out due to injury, Bacon stepped up as the team’s primary wing scorer, making 8-for-16 from the field and 1-for-2 from 3.

However, the Hornets struggled to defend, and Miami was able to build a small lead thanks in part of Derrick Jones Jr., who provided three powerful two-handed dunks in the span of a couple minutes. Unfortunately, Jones twisted his ankle badly, and wouldn’t return.

The Hornets trailed by two near the end of the half, but Hernangomez was able to overpower his defender and score a layup with seconds remaining, tying the game at 46 entering halftime.

The game remained close in the third quarter. Charlotte briefly led at points but couldn’t maintain the lead.

After a quiet first half, Miles Bridges found his rhythm and was able to score consistently at the basket. He went 0-for-3 from beyond the arc, but made two jumpers just inside the arc, including one off a step-back. Bridges finished with 14 points and five rebounds.

The Hornets entered the fourth down one, but a 10-0 run with around three minutes remaining pushed them up by six. Graham was instrumental during this stretch and found teammates for easy shots. On one play, he made a tight bounce pass through traffic to find J.P. Macura for the And-1 layup. Graham finished with 12 points and seven assists.

The Heat tried to even the score late, but Charlotte forced them to the foul line instead of allowing a 3-pointer. The strategy paid off, and the Hornets held on for the win.

Some other observations:

  • Bacon scored from a variety of spots, which bodes well for him as he heads into training camp.
  • Hernangomez was a monster on the boards, and finished with his second straight double-double. Offensively, he might be Charlotte’s most skilled big man, but his defense needs to improve, as Miami’s big men were able to score on him rather easily too often.
  • Macura had a poor first half, but made up for it in the second. He finished with 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and made a few important plays down the stretch. I’m not quite sold on him as a two-way player yet, but I like his intangibles and instincts.
  • After a solid first game, Arnoldas Kulboka was quiet today. He finished with zero points in five minutes of gametime and attempted one shot.

Charlotte will play again tomorrow night against the Boston Celtics at 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be on ESPN 2. With the back-to-back, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few players are rested, but I hope we see today’s starters play at least a portion of tomorrow’s game, even if they are on a minutes restriction.