Hornets Closing Out Short Road Trip in South Beach

Charlotte Hornets vs. Miami Heat, AmericanAirlines Arena
by Sam Perley

Coming off a narrow loss in Atlanta, the Charlotte Hornets will look to regroup and end their road trip on a winning note when they battle the Miami Heat starting tonight at 7:30 PM EST at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Terry Rozier (40 points) and Caleb Martin (23) both tallied new career highs on Monday night, but it just wasn’t enough to avoid a tough 143-138 double overtime loss to the divisional rival Hawks. The final outcome wasn’t what the team was hoping for, although it did notably mark the sixth time in seven games the Hornets have found themselves in clutch time.

“The way we closed out regulation and overtime, I thought they played the right way,” said Coach Borrego on Monday night. “They’re growing, they’re getting better, it’s exciting. There’s a lot of bright spots here. I’m proud of that group. These are pups, these are babies, out

there making plays, playing for each other, they have a great spirit. We’re getting better, we’ll learn, we’ll grow, and we’ll get ready for Miami on Wednesday.”

Charlotte fell to the Heat on the road, 117-100, back on Nov. 25, getting a team-high 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists from Rozier. Bam Adebayo led the hosts with 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, Jimmy Butler scored another 21 points and Kelly Olynyk double-doubled with 15 points and 16 rebounds off the bench. Miami also connected on 12-of-22 three-pointers in the opening half (54.5%), while the Hornets recorded 29 points on 19 Heat giveaways in the contest.

Miami has won five of six and own’s the NBA’s second-best home record at 27-4. The offense is very well balanced with Butler (18.0 PPG), Adebayo (17.7), Goran Dragić (17.4 PPG), Duncan Robinson (17.0 PPG) and Kendrick Nunn (16.4) all averaging at least 15.0 PPG over the team’s last 10 outings (6-4). Once a Division III player who went undrafted two summers ago, Robinson is currently third in the NBA in both total threes (240) and three-point percentage (45.3%).

Miami currently leads the NBA in long-distance efficiency (38.4%), thanks largely to the efforts of Robinson, Olynyk (43.7%), Meyers Leonard (42.9%) and newcomer Jae Crowder (40.2%). The Hornets allowed Atlanta to connect on 21-of-43 three-point attempts (48.8%) on Monday evening and will need to do a much better job guarding the perimeter in tonight’s showdown with the hometown Heat.

Game Notes: Miami G Tyler Herro (right ankle soreness) and C/F Meyers Leonard (left ankle sprain) have both been sidelined since Feb. 3. F/G Jimmy Butler exited Sunday’s game vs. Washington (left toe injury) and did not return… The Hornets are 2-9 against the Heat in their last 11 meetings (1-5 in Miami).

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