The Charlotte Hornets struggled to defend the 3-point line and were dealt a devastating blow to their playoff hopes with a 112-99 loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center.
The Heat shot 21-for-40 on 3-pointers, matching the most the Hornets have ever surrendered in any game. The 21 makes from behind the arc also marked Miami’s most in franchise history.
With the loss, the Hornets (36-43) fall to 2 1/2 games behind the Heat (38-40) for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference with just three games left in the regular season.
Charlotte trailed by a game-high 17 points after Goran Dragic made jumper with a minute, 49 seconds left in the third quarter. That, however, didn’t bury the Hornets, who went on a 13- 4 run to cut Miami’s lead to eight points early in the fourth.
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Charlotte never pulled any closer and was handed its second consecutive loss.
Three who mattered
Dragic: He led all players with 33 points, one shy of his season high, and went 5-for-9 on 3-pointers.
James Johnson: The former Wake Forest standout scored 26 points and led Miami’s barrage from behind the 3-point line, where he was 6-for-7.
Nic Batum: After scoring seven points in the first half, he finished with a team-best 24.
▪ Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, sat adjacent to the Hornets’ bench.
▪ N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. also attended Wednesday’s game. Smith, the Wolfpack’s first ACC Freshman of the Year since 1977, announced on March 28 he will enter the NBA draft.
▪ Batum scored Charlotte’s first 10 points of the second half. No other Hornet scored after halftime until Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made a jumper with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
▪ Hassan Whiteside picked up a technical foul less than three minutes into the second half after appearing to elbow Kidd-Gilchrist and then shove Cody Zeller. After Batum made the technical free throw, Whiteside scored six straight points to ignite a 14-0 run by the Heat.
▪ Kemba Walker was held scoreless in the second half until he made a jumper with 3:13 left in the game.
▪ Marco Belinelli exited the game in the second quarter because of a left index finger strain. He did not return.
▪ On his 3-pointer with 4:13 left in the second quarter, Walker became the first Charlotte player to score 1,800 points in a single season since Glen Rice during the 1997-98 campaign.
▪ Dion Waiters (sprained left ankle) missed his ninth straight game. The Heat improved to 4-5 in his absence.
They said it
“He has a big impact on the game, whether it’s with his shot blocking or his offensive rebounding. They had a couple of guys who stepped up and made some huge plays.” – Zeller on Whiteside and the rest of the Heat
“We came back, and we gave ourselves a chance. There’s still three games left, and we never know what can happen. So we’ve got to still play those games.” – Batum on the resiliency the team has shown recently to make push toward playoffs
C+ OFFENSE: Looked good at times, but the stretch during the third quarter proved to be the difference.
D DEFENSE: Despite its hot 3-point shooting, Miami still got too many open looks.
C- COACHING: With the team pushing for a playoff spot, you’d expect to see a more passionate effort.