Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat headed to Game 7

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, left, drives to the basket for two points as Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, right, attempts to make the stop during Friday’s Game 6 on the teams’ playoff series. .
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, left, drives to the basket for two points as Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, right, attempts to make the stop during Friday’s Game 6 on the teams’ playoff series. . jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

It’s going the full seven games.

The Charlotte Hornets will travel to Miami Sunday for an afternoon finale with the Heat that will decide which team advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Heat held off a fourth-quarter rally by the Hornets to win in Time Warner Cable Arena 97-90 Friday night. Two 3-pointers by Heat guard Dwyane Wade (he’d made no 3s in the previous five games of this series) came up huge, overcoming Hornets point guard Kemba Walker’s career playoff-best 37 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.

Wade blocked a Walker layup with seconds left and then the Hornets had no choice but to foul Joe Johnson. He made both free throws to spread the lead to seven.

Three who mattered

Al Jefferson: He played big in the third quarter, scoring 10 points and sending Hassan Whiteside to the bench with a fourth foul.

Walker: He set a new personal best for scoring in a playoff game.

Wade: He finished with 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting.

Observations

▪  The Hornets were without their usual public address announcer, Big Pat, who was out sick.

▪  This was the last game for Fox Sports Southeast telecasts this season. The NBA gives its national television rights holders exclusivity after the first round.

▪  Hornets coach Steve Clifford chose to again use small forward Nic Batum off the bench Friday. Batum was a reserve in Game 5 after returning from ankle and foot injuries.

▪  Batum became a father for the first time when his fiance gave birth to a boy around 1 a.m. Friday. Batum didn’t get much sleep, but he was at the arena for shootaround Friday morning.

▪  The Hornets placed a purple or teal T-shirt on each seat in the arena, with the mid-court line serving as the “border” between the two colors.

Worth mentioning

▪  The Hornets will be without reserve center Spencer Hawes for at least a week after he suffered a knee sprain in Game 5 in Miami. Clifford expected Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky to absorb most of Hawes’ minutes.

▪  Former Carolina Panther Julius Peppers and former NBA superstar Allen Iverson attended Friday’s game.

▪  Batum left the game in the fourth quarter, having aggravated his foot injury, and did not return.

They said it

“We played real well on offense when he’s on the floor and (we) have the ability sometimes to be five out.” – Clifford on what he lost with Hawes injured.

“I think him playing the other night helped him get his rhythm.” – Clifford on Batum.

“We just try to get guys to embrace this opportunity.” – Miami coach Erik Spoelstra about preparing for a potential close-out game.

Report card

B OFFENSE: They got to the foul line a ton, compared to the Heat.

C+ DEFENSE: The Heat shot 60 percent in the first half but cooled off after that.

B COACHING: Solid job of managing injuries to Batum and Hawes.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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