By Sam Perley
Running on fumes in the final minutes of regulation, the Charlotte Hornets got a miraculous, late game-tying three-pointer by Malik Monk, and then dominated overtime play for a 129-121 road victory over the Miami Heat on Monday, Feb. 1 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Monk was the absolute star of the show, finishing with a career-high 36 points on 9-of-13 shooting from three (also a personal best), five rebounds and two assists in 40 minutes off the bench. The fourth-year guard’s performance is now the highest single-game scoring total by a reserve in team history, breaking Devonte’ Graham’s mark of 35 set just last season.
Down six heading into the fourth, Miami opened the frame on a 29-13 run to take a 111-101 lead at the 3:11 mark. Charlotte immediately responded with a 9-2 run, bringing the score to within one possession with under a minute remaining. After an empty Heat possession and Hornets timeout, Malik Monk found just enough space on the left sideline and fired up an off-balance three-pointer that splashed through the net to tie the game.
Following a well-contested, potential game-winning shot by Jimmy Butler at the end of regulation, the visitors continued to stay aggressive in overtime, going ahead by seven on a Devonte’ Graham three-pointer about three-and-a-half minutes into the extra frame. Then leading by six about a 60 seconds later, Graham iced the game on a pullup dagger and the Hornets shot free throws down the stretch to notch their third straight win.
“It’s been a resilient group all year,” said Coach Borrego afterwards. “We’re down ten with two-plus minutes to go and nobody hung their heads. Everybody’s chipping in, everybody’s fighting, nobody’s doubting. We found a way to reshape and reform ourselves when the odds weren’t in our favors. This is a tough group that believes in each other. Give Malik Monk a ton of credit. He’s stayed ready, he’s stayed professional and he’s earned this.”
Monk added, “All my shots felt good all night. I thought every shot was going to go in. If I got a little space, I knew it was going to be good. That was the play Coach drew up for us and [Miami] switches a lot and we knew we could exploit them with slips. I just had a little space off the dribble handoff from Cody [Zeller] and that’s all I needed.”
Graham (season-high-tying 24 points), Gordon Hayward (19), Cody Zeller (season-high 19 points) and first-time starter LaMelo Ball (14 points) were all in double figures, with Zeller grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the campaign. PJ Washington had six points and seven rebounds before exiting in the third quarter (right foot sprain) and Terry Rozier sat out his first game of the season (right ankle sprain).
Butler led Miami with a team-high 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in the loss. Bam Adebayo added 23 points and nine rebounds, two-way reserve player Max Strus erupted for a career-high 19 points and Duncan Robinson (16), Kelly Olynyk (11) and Tyler Herro (11) also scored at least 10 points for the host Heat.
Charlotte committed just 12 turnovers and connected on a season-high-tying 21-of-41 three-point attempts (51%), a mark that was originally established just two nights earlier against Milwaukee. The Hornets are also now just the fifth team in NBA history to record at least 20 threes and 30 assists in consecutive games.
The Hornets will now kickoff another three-game homestand starting with the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 PM EST. Catch all the action on Fox Sports Southeast, the Fox Sports GO app and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM.