The Hornets took an early lead before their typical first quarter lull set in. They let the Heat score 11 straight points at one point while the Hornets missed seven shots in a row. Kelly Oubre hit three early 3-pointers to keep the Hornets afloat while his teammates struggled. PJ Washington announced his return to the lineup with seven first quarter points. The quarter as a whole was played mostly evenly except for one key area. The Heat secured more offensive rebounds than the Hornets defensive rebounds, and all those extra possessions helped the Heat to an 11 point lead after the first, capped off by a running 3-point bank shot from Tyler Herro.
The Heat onslaught continued into the second quarter as they quickly amassed a 24 point lead before we made it to the midway point of the second quarter. The lead grew as large as 26 before the Hornets eventually stopped the bleeding. Washington continued to impress in his return, blocking a Duncan Robinson three, generating a couple of steals, and taking Bam Adebayo out of the game. That, along with some adept Hornets free throw shooting, helped the Hornets get a few points back heading into the half. After two, the Hornets trailed 64-46.
The teams combined to make two of their first 16 shots coming out of the half. Miles Bridges splashed a pair of triples and blocked a PJ Tucker 3-point shot in between, then Mason Plumlee found Kelly Oubre on a nice back cut to cut the deficit to 11. The Heat hit a couple buckets to get some of their lead, forcing a Hornets timeout. After the timeout, the Hornets started throwing some zone looks at the Heat, and it took them out of their offensive rhythm. The Hornets forced a few turnovers and got out on the break for some highlights. They also got threes from Gordon Hayward and Cody Martin as they cut the deficit down to nine heading into the fourth quarter.
Cody Martin opened the fourth quarter scoring with a 3-pointer to give him a career high 15 points. The Hornets held that deficit for a few possessions, but a 7-0 spurt pushed the Heat back up by 13. The Hornets took a timeout and responded with a run of their own to get back within eight and force the Heat to take a timeout of their own. They wouldn’t be able to get any closer. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each put through a pair of shots to put the game out of reach with just under three minutes to play.
Hayward and Bridges to combine to provide a consistent force on offense for the Hornets. Oubre, Martin, and Washington provided sparks at different points during the game. The Hornets method of starting slow and coming from behind probably isn’t sustainable against good teams like this, but it is nice to see that they are capable of erasing deficits even against some of the toughest teams in the league.
The Hornets will try to get right on Sunday when they host Cody Zeller and the Trail Blazers.