Charlotte Hornets Sweep Series With The Heat

Despite a strong second-half surge from the Miami Heat (22-24), the Charlotte Hornets (23-21) come up big with a 110-105 victory at Spectrum Center. It was a beatdown from the start as the Hornets prioritized their ball movement and defense. This quickly turned into easily made baskets led by Terry Rozier and the whole team. Despite the early momentum, things quickly changed as the Heat fired back in the second-half lead by Jimmy Butler. The clock was too far gone for the Heat with Rozier making clutch baskets to seal the victory. This win brings a 3 game winning streak for the Hornets. They would love to build strong momentum for their playoff push. On the other hand, the undermanned Heat now have a 6-game losing streak.

Start of the Game

The Hornets’ defense was excellent from the jump. This triggered their run and gun offense that caused easy baskets for the team. From the start, it was Devontae Graham hitting their marks while P.J Washington dominating in the paint. In addition, the Hornets prioritized movement of the ball which gave them easy baskets for one another. It was Terry Rozier that had the duties in facilitating the ball with an early 4 assists in the 1st. Surprise contributions from Malik Monk who was hot in the first. He capitalized on early fast-break points to extend their lead by a ton. By the end of the first quarter, the Hornets made their shots on all assisted baskets going 12 made baskets on 12 assists. The score was 40-23 at the end of the first.

The Malik Monk Show

Malik Monk had it cooking tonight as he poured out 32 points in 26 minutes for the Hornets. It was in the second quarter where Monk blew up as at the start, he poured in back-to-back threes to put in 18 points early. He brought in energy and excitement to this team to stretch their lead to 55-31 in the 8:16 mark. With the Heat was searching for a spark from the team, the Hornets kept their guns blazing with Rozier and Graham leading the charge. This scoring punch of Monk, Graham, and Rozier are playing exceptionally well to score but also keep the pace of the team on point.

Hornets brought the energy and confidence to the Heat with a dominating 72-49 end to the 1st half. Malik Monk, that came of the bench, had 24 points at the end of the half. He now plays 2nd in the Hornets’ all-time in most points scored in a half by a player off the bench. It was the efficiency and confidence that Monk showed out there that impressed me the most. His energy was infectious that it displayed at the defensive side as well.  If the Heat would make a run, it was Monk who took over and gave his team crucial baskets to keep their lead going. It would be huge for the team to have Monk step up in the next games to combat the loss from the offensive load LaMelo Ball gave them.

Heat started rolling

At the start of the second half, The Heat started to pick up their hustle on the defensive side of the ball. Jimmy Butler with his leadership created offense for his team that started on an 11-0 run to start the third. I would say the pick up of Veteran forward, Trevor Ariza is huge for them. He gave the team a couple of possessions back with steals and hustle. This sparked a 21-6 run to end the third. As the Heat got their groove, a couple of turnovers was crucial for them that sustained the lead for the Hornets at midway in the fourth.

Duncan Robinson had 20 points in this game going 6-9 on 3-point baskets. Each point was crucial for the team to chase the lead going from the final minutes of the game. Heat big man, Bam Adebayo finally got into a rhythm dominating on the paint to cut off the lead by 3. A late surge from this game started a 12-0 run with 3 minutes left on the clock. With the Heat within reach, a clutch basket from Terry Rozier with 30 seconds to go. In addition, crucial free throws from Graham sealed the victory for the team.

Keys to the Game

The Hornets capitalize on an undermanned Heat without Goran Dragic and new additions, Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica. Their 3-point shooting is seen to be a strong suit in this winning streak scoring 18 threes on a 42 percent clip. In addition, the guards have been playing exceptional scoring the basket but their efficiency and willingness to pass have been steadily improving over the past few games. We can see a lot more power and urgency from the squad after losing Ball to the injury. James Borrego’s decision to keep Biyombo at the five to start the game was huge for them. His decision did not give any room for Adebayo to dominate early. Putting in Biyombo gives the team athleticism and a defensive identity in the frontcourt.

It was fun seeing this team at their best sharing the rock with one another. But a lot more defensive effort has to be poured out if the team wants to keep this winning streak alive.

Next Game

The Charlotte Hornets would face the Phoenix Suns at home in Sunday, March 28 1:00 PM ET. The Suns are 30-14 with a tight victory over the Raptors yesterday. They would love to seek revenge to the Hornets over their last matchup that ended in a victory for the Hornets,

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