The Miami Heat fell to the Hornets by a score of 78-76, a score indicative of how poorly both teams shot. It was a game Miami had no business being in, but they managed to eek out a two-point lead in the 4th quarter after falling behind by 11.
Without Hassan Whiteside and Luol Deng, Miami cobbled together another new starting lineup, this one featuring Chris Andersen and Danny Granger as fill-ins. Suffice to say, it wasn't an effective duo as Miami only netted 17 first quarter points and neither would play in the 4th quarter.
The story of the game will be Miami's inability to rebound, allowing Charlotte to corral 20 offensive rebounds and losing the overall battle of the boards 56-41. Miami would effectively clamp down the initial possession (Hornets leading scorer Kemba Walker shot only 4-17) only to see Cody Zeller (12 rebounds), Michael-Kidd Gilchrist (14 rebounds), and Bismack Biyombo (12 rebounds) swoop in for putbacks.
Miami looked woefully outmatched athletically without Whiteside so Erik Spoelstra opted to dust off James Ennis, who I would label the only bright spot for the game. Ennis finished with eight points, seven rebounds, a steal and a block in 28 minutes. It was Ennis who played the crunchtime minutes for Miami and no matter the result, you'd hope this would be a springboard for his own confidence as well as the staff's in playing him further. He has an ability to draw fouls when he gets a head of steam to the rim and he puts up decent rebounding totals when getting the minutes to do so.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh led Miami with 17 points apiece, but they combined to shoot 15-41 from the field. Mario Chalmers added 13, but his late-game antics did more harm than good (to his credit he made the three-pointer to give Miami their first lead of the 4th quarter). Bosh would airball a potential game-winning 3-pointer that was saved by Chalmers. Chalmers would get another chance to shoot, but his double-clutched three was short.
Miami again seems deflated, with the rotation a hodgepodge and the effort lacking against an opponent that didn't play well, but won the hustle points that proved to be the difference. After all of the good vibes of the 3-2 road trip, Miami is again six games in the hole and clinging on to the 7th seed.
For reasons still somewhat inexplicable, Miami plays more effectively in every facet of the game with Hassan Whiteside playing, so they better hope he recovers soon. Miami is again at risk of dropping out of the postseason and lingering in NBA purgatory if the ship isn't righted again
Miami takes on Indiana on Friday at the AA Arena, a team they are 0-2 against this season. Tipoff is set for 7:30