Heat drop second straight with road loss to Hornets
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Al Jefferson scored a season-high 28 points and added 10 rebounds, and the Charlotte Hornets beat Miami 96-89 Wednesday night to snap a 16-game, regular-season losing streak against the Heat.
Charlotte was winless against the Heat in the LeBron James era, including getting swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by Miami last season.
Jefferson has now scored in double digits in 30 straight regular-season games dating to last season. He has scored at least 20 points in 23 of those games.
Kemba Walker had 16 points and seven assists, and Cody Zeller turned in another solid game off the bench with 13 points and eight rebounds for the Hornets (2-3), who won for the first time since the season opener.
Chris Bosh had 23 points and 13 rebounds for Miami (3-2). It was Bosh’s fifth straight 20-point game to open the season.
Dwyane Wade added 23 points for Miami, which has lost back-to-back games after starting the season 3-0.
The Hornets trailed 57-56 late in the third quarter before Walker put them ahead for good with a pair of free throws and rookie P.J. Hairston knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing, helping ignite a 21-7 run.
Jefferson had everything working in his bag of tricks.
He was fouled on the wrist on the way up by Shawne Williams in the third quarter and threw up a prayer hoping the ball would go in. It hit the top of the backboard and lazily fell down on the rim, bounced a few times and went in for a three-point play.
Lance Stephenson, Charlotte’s big free agent acquisition, continued to struggle from the field, shooting just 3 of 12. He is shooting just 27 percent through five games.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra went with rookie point guard Shabazz Napier down the stretch instead of Norris Cole, who struggled from the field and scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Napier’s driving layup with 2:07 left in the game cut Charlotte’s lead to 88-85 with 2:07 left.
But Walker buried a 3-pointer over Napier, his former teammate at Connecticut, from the right wing to give the Hornets some cushion.
Miami would get within four, but two turnovers and a missed jumper by Mario Chalmers in the final minute ended any chance of a comeback.
Heat: Josh McRoberts was a key player in Charlotte’s starting rotation, but he’s seen limited playing time with the Heat this season while working his way back from a toe injury. "Right now it’s just spot duty, spot minutes — 8 or 10 minutes a game," Spoelstra said. McRoberts was greeted by boos when he entered the game and had just two points.
Hornets: The Hornets drafted center Bismack Biyombo with the seventh pick in the 2011 NBA draft, but he’s fallen out of the team’s rotation and hasn’t played in five games this season. … Stephenson was charged with a flagrant-1 foul for a screen he set on Chalmers in the fourth quarter.
Heat: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.
Hornets: Host Atlanta on Friday night.