The Charlotte Hornets, down six of their top nine rotation players Tuesday, couldn’t overcome their deficiencies in a 111-105 loss to the Miami Heat.
The Hornets didn’t trail by more than 11 entering the fourth quarter, with Ball hitting a one-footed three to bring Charlotte within its closest deficit of the half at four points. The Heat scored the next eight to pull ahead by double digits, while the Hornets then went on a 12-4 run to bring the game closer to even. Charlotte could get no closer than four the rest of the game.
Despite leading after one period, the Hornets had to settle for using many of their unproven young players in roles they were not meant for this early in their careers.
Lineup on the floor right now: Theo Maledon, Leaky Black, Nick Smith, Jr., PJ Washington, & Nick Richards.
— Will Palaszczuk (@WilliePStyle) November 15, 2023
PJ Washington scored 12 of his game-high 32 points in the Hornets’ fruitful first, with LaMelo Ball adding a double-double with 28 points & 11 assists to go along with six rebounds.
Jiimmy Butler led the Heat with 29 points, while Bam Adebayo shook off a slow start to contribute 21 points & 11 rebounds.
Before the game, Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford lamented his team’s defense, saying that side of the ball has become the biggest casualty of Charlotte’s injury woes.
I asked @hornets HC Steve Clifford if despite Sunday’s blowout loss he’s seeing progress on defense. He emphatically said “No.”
Said they’re getting “rocked off the ball”, not defending the pick-and-roll, & not defensive rebounding.
Said best defense came earlier in the year.
— Will Palaszczuk (@WilliePStyle) November 14, 2023
Tuesday night, turnovers were the big culprit for Charlotte, with the Hornets giving the ball away 18 times and the Heat scoring 23 points off those turnovers. The Hornets also surrendered 10 offensive rebounds leading to eight second-chance points, including one rebound while needing a defensive stop trailing by four points in the final minute.
The loss for the Hornets drops them to 1-1 in pool play in the NBA In-Season Tournament, with the team having two games remaining before the knockout round. With only the six group winners and two “wild cards” advancing, Friday’s in-season tournament game with the Milwaukee Bucks becomes a must-win for the Hornets’ knockout round hopes.
Coverage of Friday’s game with the Hornets & Bucks begins with a live edition of The Kyle Bailey Show live from Spectrum Center, with the pregame show to follow at 6 PM, and the game at 7 PM all on Sports Radio 92.7 WFNZ.
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