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Recap: Undermanned Hornets play well but lose to Heat, 104-103

We can count this game as a win.

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball both put in really strong performances as the Charlotte Hornets outplayed the Miami Heat for much of the night, but the Heat rallied late and won the game, 104-103.

PJ Washington, Jalen McDaniels, and Cody Martin got the start in place of the absent Mason Plumlee, Gordon Hayward, and Terry Rozier. The Hornets started slow and dug a small hole early, but they used most of the first and second quarters to slowly cut it back down. A late rally, spurred mostly by LaMelo Ball, gave the Hornets a four point at the break.

Ball and Bridges did a lot of damage in the third quarter (with some help from Cody Martin), but the two teams played the quarter pretty evenly. The Hornets built up a seemingly comfortable lead during the first half of the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 13 while the deep benches started to filter in. With 3:37 to play, Ish Smith hit a short jumper to give the Hornets a 103-91 lead. They would not score another point. The Heat scored the final 13 points of the game with the reserves to steal the game in the waning moments.

Bridges and Ball played like stars. Bridges finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists while Ball flirted with a triple double and finished with 19 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds in just 26 minutes of action.

Cody Martin put in the best offensive performance we’ve ever seen from him. He scored 15 points and hit three 3-pointers, both of which are more than we’ve ever seen him contribute in a regular season game. He shot the three confidently, and his output tonight is certainly intriguing.

James Bouknight got more run with the regular rotation players and again showed off some impressive scoring chops, finishing with 14 points. However, there were some obvious moments of inexperience and indecision that led to turnovers and tougher-than-necessary shot attempts. He’ll iron those out in time though.

Ish Smith looked quick as ever and did a really good job probing the paint and collapsing the Heat defense. The Hornets will be happy if this is what they get out of him in the regular season.

PJ Washington had some nice moments, but he fouled out in the middle of the third quarter and didn’t shoot the ball that well. Jalen McDaniels, Nick Richards, and Wes Iwundu rounded out the regular roration, and they were all largely nonfactors throughout the game.

The Hornets will wrap up the preseason on Wednesday at home against the Dallas Mavericks on ESPN.