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Miami Heat fall to Charlotte Hornets 90-77 in preseason opener

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Heat falter down the stretch as offense goes cold, though plenty of bright spots are evident.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NBA basketball is back!

Well, it's preseason but an energetic home crowd welcomed the Miami Heat back to the AmericanAirlines Arena in their preseason debut in a 90-77 loss against the Charlotte Hornets.

After just one preseason game, it's way too early to read too much into the results but Chris Bosh was impressive in his return to the court, leading the team with 14 points on 6-11 shooting and seven rebounds. Three Heat players finished with 12 points, including Amar'e Stoudemire and Gerald Green in their Heat debuts as well as Dwyane Wade, who also contributed five rebounds. Hassan Whiteside missed the game with his calf strain which has kept him out of training camp, with Udonis Haslem starting in his place.

Goran Dragic wasn't aggressive in looking for his own shot with just two points but did lead the team with six assists while Luol Deng chipped in seven points and five rebounds.

While the starting five certainly had their moments, the Heat's bench showcased several intriguing possibilities with versatile players capable of providing much more than last season's squad. Justise Winslow struggled with his outside shot, finishing with nine points on 2-9 shooting in 28 minutes but already showed plenty on the defensive end, as well as the willingness to crash the boards and penetrate without hesitation. Rookie lessons have yet to be learned, with one sequence in which he believed he had a clear path to the basket and took his time to gather himself for the dunk only to be fouled as he got stripped of the ball.

Green was instant offense off the bench with his athleticism and quickness. His 14 shot attempts led the team, a little too much of course, but he also had five rebounds and showed some defensive skill on several sequences out on the perimeter.

Arguably the most impressive showing off the bench was Josh McRoberts, who was a revelation with his playmaking and skillful passing. Much like Dragic, he didn't look for his own shot nearly enough but an assortment of stylish passes and impressive court vision to find his teammates for good looks at the basket. Had the team not been so rusty on offense he would have racked up far more than the two assists he recorded.

The offense will need more work to be sure, and again it is just one preseason game, but the lack of outside shooting was already a point of concern with this team and their 3-16 showing from beyond the arc tonight didn't exactly quell any fears.

Miami's perimeter defense collectively couldn't do much to stop the Hornets' trio of point guards from powering their team to victory. Kemba Walker gave the Heat guards fits all night with 17 points on a combination of drives to the basket and strong outside shooting, going 3-4 from 3-point territory. Jeremy Lin had 10 points off the bench and Brian Roberts led his team with 21 points on 6-11 shooting.

Charlotte led for most of the game, though the Heat briefly had a small lead in the third quarter. But with the starters mostly resting in the second half, the Hornets took control of the game with a 9-0 run near the end of the third quarter and held the lead for the rest of the game.

Miami was able to cut the deficit to two points with a 11-3 run to start the fourth quarter but quickly ran out of gas with poor shooting and several close-range shots rimming out -- either from bad luck or rustiness. The biggest lead for the Hornets was ultimately reflected in the final score.

The Heat next face the Orlando Magic in Louisville on Wednesday at 7:30pm. The game will not be televised and can only be heard on 790AM The Ticket.