Hornets Season Ends with Game 7 Loss in Miami

By Matt Rochinski, hornets.com

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No Hornets player finished with more than 12 points and the Heat used an offensive explosion in the third quarter, outscoring Charlotte 29-11 in the frame on their way to a 106-73 victory on May 1 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Playoff series in Miami. Frank Kaminsky led the Hornets with a dozen points, while Courtney Lee (11) and Nicolas Batum (10) also scored in double figures in the series-clinching loss.

Turning Point
Trailing 54-42 at halftime, the Hornets needed to come out of the locker room with purpose and play with intensity if they were going to give Miami a run in Game 7 on their home court. Charlotte never got that chance, as the Heat used an 11-0 run, following a Kemba Walker jumper to start the third, to open a 21-point lead in the first 4:17 of the second half. Hassan Whiteside started the run by throwing down a one-handed putback slam after Joe Johnson’s miss that fueled the Heat and its home crowd as Whiteside’s bucket started a string of 5-of-6 made shots. Meanwhile, Charlotte could not find a way to take the lid off the basket, missing its next eight shots as Miami pulled away, pushing the 21-point lead to 30 at then end of the third and putting the series to rest, 4-3.  

Inside the Box Score
Heading into Game 7 on the road in front of a hostile crowd at American Airlines Arena, the Hornets needed to do something to try and swing momentum back their way following a Game 6 loss in Charlotte. Instead, Miami did everything it needed to in order to whip its home crowd into a frenzy, outscoring the Hornets in every hustle stat – 16-6 in the paint, 8-0 in second-chance points and 3-0 on the fast break – while punishing Charlotte on the boards, 17-7 in the first 12 minutes. The Heat had nearly as many offensive boards (six) as the Hornets had total rebounds, extending possession after possession by Miami as they built a 29-18 advantage at quarter’s end. Despite continuing to try and scrape, claw and shoot their way back into the game, the double-digit deficit on the road in the first quarter of a Game 7 proved too much to overcome as the Hornets never got closer than four points the rest of the contest and saw Miami open up the game in the second half… Charlotte was outshot 48.3 percent (43-of-89) to 32.1 percent (27-of-84) from the field and 37.5 percent (9-of-24) to 33.3 percent (7-of-21) from long range… The Hornets connected on a perfect 12-of-12 shots from the free-throw line… Charlotte was outrebounded, 58-36, including 10-3 on the offensive glass… Miami held a 58-22 advantage in points in the paint, led 18-5 in second-chance points and outscored the Hornets 10-2 on the break… Five players – Goran Dragic (25 points), Gerald Green (16), Luol Deng (15), Dwyane Wade (12) and Hassan Whiteside (10) – scored in double digits for Miami, while Whiteside brought down 12 rebounds for the double-double.

Hornets Player of the Game
Despite falling down by 11 points in the first quarter, Courtney Lee did everything he could to try and keep the Hornets in the game in the first half, scoring nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the second quarter and connecting on the only three-pointer he took. Lee finished the game with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Heat Player of the Game
Goran Dragic finished with a game-high 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, including 2-of-5 from long range. He added six rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot.

Game Notes
This Game 7 marked only the second time the Hornets have gone the distance in a best-of-seven series, only doing so in the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals against Milwaukee… Kemba Walker entered Game 7 averaging 25.0 points, which ranked sixth in the NBA, third in the Eastern Conference and second all-time in Charlotte Hornets history in points per game in the playoffs… Head Coach Steve Clifford has been involved in three Game 7’s in his career as an assistant, but this was his first as a head coach… Spencer Hawes (right knee sprain) and Nicolas Batum (left foot strain) were both active for Charlotte. Batum had 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes, while Hawes did not play… Tyler Hansbrough (back spasms) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (right shoulder surgery) were out… The Heat have now won four-straight Game 7’s and is 6-3 overall in franchise history… This is the first playoff series that Head Coach Eric Spoelstra has won with Miami without LeBron James.