Another game, another Miami Heat loss at the hands of a true go-to scorer. This time it was a 91-82 defeat to Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night, marking their sixth consecutive road loss.
Walker led his team with 22 points, including several daggers in crunch time, as the Heat couldn’t match his offensive output but he also had help with Nicolas Batum powering the Hornets to a big third quarter that helped turn the game around.
For Miami, the team suffered through another uninspired game from Hassan Whiteside, who was mostly invisible on both ends of the floor — limited by Cody Zeller and a tight Charlotte defense but his teammates by and large looked for their own shots in crunch time. Though the team opened the game sharing the ball and getting everyone involved, that was largely nonexistent by the end of the game when the Heat had several chances to tie or retake the lead but were undone with stagnant offense and costly turnovers.
The Heat played well in the first half with strong performances from Josh Richardson, who led his team with 20 points and looked more like the confident rookie we saw after the All-Star break, and Tyler Johnson, who finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists. But Goran Dragic, coming off a one-game absence due to back spasms, wasn’t himself with just five points in his return to the starting lineup while Justise Winslow had his worse game of the season with a 0-9 shooting performance and just one point along with five rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes.
The team as a whole played well in the second quarter, led by Richardson who scored 13 points on 5-8 FG shooting, and they collectively knocked down seven 3-pointers — punctuated by Johnson’s halftime buzzer beater. However, an 8-0 Hornets run to start the second half allowed them to take the lead at 50-49 which led to a 15-2 run to open a 9-point lead that Miami would never recover from.
Miami at 10-23 is now a season-worst 13 games under .500 and have lost 11 of their last 14 games. They must try to put their road woes behind them tomorrow night when they visit the Boston Celtics at 7pm.