On the second night of the Miami Heat’s second back-to-back set of the season, they looked sluggish and never got it together until it was too late in their 96-89 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets franchise had lost 16 consecutive regular-season games against the Heat since March 9, 2010, and were swept by them during the first round of the playoffs last season.
Only Dwyane Wade (25 points, seven assists and four rebounds) and Chris Bosh (23 points, 13 rebounds) reached double figures for the Heat, who endured their worst shooting performance of the season. As a team, the Heat made just four 3-pointers on 22 attempts, shooting an ugly 39 percent overall from the field.
Their consecutive losses ended a stretch of four games in five nights. The Heat had entered the game against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday ranked second in the NBA in points.
Led by Kemba Walker (18 points, seven assists) and Al Jefferson (28 points, 10 rebounds), the Hornets went on a 14-3 run midway through the second quarter to take the lead. Jefferson, who has always played well against the Heat dating back to his Utah Jazz days, had his way inside the paint throughout the game. The Hornets took control of the game in the third quarter, with the Heat’s poor shooting preventing them from countering.
But the Heat had a chance to win it in the end and even got as close to three points, but a Walker 3-pointer over former UConn teammate Shabazz Napier with two minutes left in the game halted the momentum.
THE TURNING POINT
The Heat sealed their fate with nine straight missed shots during a 15-5 Hornets run in the third quarter, with zero field goals for the team during the last six minutes.
Bosh scored seven straight points in the first four minutes of the second half, but Jefferson matched him with eight straight to lead his team. Charlotte’s run to end the third quarter gave them the lead they would not relinquish.
STAT OF THE GAME
Without Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem due to injury and Josh McRoberts still restricted in minutes, the Heat were outrebounded by the Hornets 49 to 36 and gave up 13 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points.
The Heat will host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.