Charlotte Hornets

Heat outshoot Hornets in Game 2; take 2-0 series lead

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) is fouled as he goes to the basket by Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson (0) during the first half of Wednesday’s game.
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) is fouled as he goes to the basket by Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson (0) during the first half of Wednesday’s game. AP

The Miami Heat shot 57.6 percent from the field in Game 1 and that was supposed to be an anomaly.

Wednesday night in Game 2, the Heat shot 57.9 percent, and the Hornets were at a complete loss. With the 115-103 victory, the Heat leads the first-round playoff series 2-0, and Charlotte is still looking for its first postseason victory since 2002.

It’s not that the Hornets played poorly Wednesday night. They were efficient on the offensive end with four players in double figures, and they appeared to be more responsible on defense.

To make matters worse – as if being down 0-2 isn’t already the worst – Hornets forward Nic Batum rolled his left ankle early in the fourth quarter and did not return. It’s unclear what his status for Saturday’s Game 3 will be, but it’s the same ankle that he sprained near the end of the regular season.

Three-pointers were Charlotte’s lifeblood in the regular season. Wednesday night the Hornets made one of 16 attempts.

“You got to tip your hat to them, but now we got to go do our job,” center Al Jefferson said. “We got to go protect our home court.”

Three who mattered

Al Jefferson: The big man came off the bench and posted 16 second-quarter points on 8-of-9 shooting.

Kemba Walker: He played with his typical passion and tried to do more with Batum out in the second half. He finished with 29 points.

Dwyane Wade: The 12-year veteran still looks spry. He had an inspired 28 points and a nice finish at the rim with less than 2 minutes left to put the Heat up 11.

Observations

▪  Cody Zeller entered Game 2 with the purpose of being more physical with Hassan Whiteside. He drew two quick fouls on Whiteside and their matchup verged on chippy early.

▪  The Heat tied a postseason franchise record in Game 1 with 41 points in a quarter. Miami broke that record Wednesday with a 43-point second quarter.

▪  Wade had a huge block on Walker in the third quarter. Walker went between the legs on Josh Richardson and loaded up for a step-back 3, but Wade glided to block the shot. There was contact after the block but no call.

▪  The silver lining for the Hornets this series has been their ability to get to the free-throw line. Charlotte has a combined 70 free-throw attempts compared to Miami’s 43.

▪  Clifford maintained his same eight-man rotation from Game 2 despite how things were going for his team. He decided against putting in the likes of Troy Daniels or Jeremy Lamb to help with the Hornets’ ailing 3-point shooting.

Worth mentioning

▪  At one point early in the third quarter the Heat was shooting 75 percent from the field.

▪  Charlotte’s one made 3-pointer was the lowest of the 2015-16 season. The previous low was five.

▪  The Heat has won 13 consecutive first-round games at home. Four of those games came against the Hornets.

They said it

“Could we change something as it goes on if it makes sense? Yeah. But not just so that I can say I’m playing Joe Coach and we’re going to try something different.” – Clifford before the game on changing the lineup.

“We spent two days talking about their response. It also has to be about our response, here at home, protecting with a sense of urgency.” – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra about the Hornets.

“We had stretches where we played well tonight but we have to put it together for 48 minutes.” – Zeller on the team’s defense.

Report card

B OFFENSE: Charlotte’s offense did well enough to be in a game if its defense would have kept up its end. Walker and Jefferson combined for 54.

D DEFENSE: This would be an F if not for the fact that the Hornets’ defense got one on Sunday and this was slightly better. This Heat team shouldn’t be putting up these kinds of numbers.

B- COACHING: Feeding Jefferson in the second quarter was smart, but to have no answer for the Heat’s offense in consecutive games can’t be excused.

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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