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Five Stars: Hornets 109, Heat 106

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Things got much tighter in the Eastern Conference when the Heat dropped a three-point decision to the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami's three-point loss to the Charlotte Hornets served to further close the gap between the third and sixth-seeded teams in the Eastern Conference. They're now separated by just 0.5 games, and Miami is in a three-way tie for fourth, with the Hornets and the Boston Celtics. Last night's Five Stars has Luol Deng on top, but only one other Heat player joined him.

First Star

Luol Deng (MIA) 19.5

Deng earned his third First Star of the season in his 22nd overall appearance in the series, playing 34:53 and scoring a game-high 22 points on seven-of-13 shooting. This includes his two-for-five night from outside. He also made all six of his free throws on the night. Deng also pitched in with nine rebounds (three offensive), three assists, a steal, and a blocked shot. His plus-9 rating was the highest mark on the Heat.

There's not much margin for error for either team. It's competition at its finest and you not only have to compete at a high level, you have to play well and make plays under duress, under the context of game, time, score, all of that. And you have to credit Charlotte. Any time it seemed like we had some momentum ... they came back. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

Second Star

Al Jefferson (CHA) 17.8

Jefferson, Charlotte's 6'10" big man from Monticello, Mississippi, came off the bench for a team-high-tying 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting. He made one of three free throws, with 10 rebounds (three offensive), an assist, a steal, and a minus-4 rating in 26:51. His double-double was the only such night for any player on either team.

Day by day, try to get better, good shootaround, have a good practice, film session. That's the way you have to do it. I believe we have the right kind of guys. They're serious minded and I think our approach is good right now. - Charlotte coach Steve Clifford


Third Star

Kemba Walker (CHA) 16.0

Walker, Charlotte's fifth-year 6'1" point guard out of the University of Connecticut, equalled Jefferson's 21 points, going seven-of-18 from the field and four-of-nine from outside. He made three-of-three free throws, with seven rebounds, seven assists, and a plus-13 rating in a game-high 42:44.

It's fun now. It's a race. It's a battle. - Walker

Fourth Star

Goran Dragic (MIA) 14.7

Dragic, in his 24th Five Star appearance, is now tied with Deng in the overall point standings in fourth place (see below). He played a team-high 36:05 for the Heat at point guard, scoring 16 points with seven defensive rebounds. Dragic went eight-of-16 from the field, missing all three of his three-pointers and not attempting a foul shot. He had eight helpers on the night along with two steals and a plus-4 rating.

Fifth Star

Marvin Williams (CHA) 13.2

Williams, a 6'9" forward out of the University of North Carolina in his 11th NBA season, started at the four for the Hornets last night. He rounds out the Five Stars with 12 points and five rebounds (two offensive). He made four-of-five from three-point territory, missing all three of his two-pointers and both of his one-pointers. He also had two steals and an assist, with a game-high plus-16.

The Rest

Joe Johnson (MIA) 13.1

Josh Richardson (MIA) 12.3

Richardson scored 18 points in 24:33 off the bench, making seven-of-nine overall and three-of-four from outside. He's a ridiculous 18 for his last 24 from deep, raising his career shot rate from a sluggish .300 up to a Hall of Fame level .469. He missed the Five Stars due to mostly to his five personal fouls on the night.

Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 12.3

Whiteside had 17 points on six-of-10 shooting, with seven boards, a block, and a steal in 27:14 off the bench.

Nicolas Batum (CHA) 11.5

Courtney Lee (CHA) 8.6

Justise Winslow (MIA) 8.1

Amar'e Stoudemire (MIA) 5.6

Frank Kaminsky (CHA) 5.0

Cody Zeller (CHA) 3.9

Dwyane Wade (MIA) 3.7

Wade made just three-of-13 shots, finishing with 11 points. He needs 13 more to cross into 20,000+ territory.

This is a good team and they've been playing very well. This is kind of Eastern Conference playoff basketball. You know there's going to be highs and lows throughout the game. - Wade

Troy Daniels (CHA) 2.3

Tyler Hansbrough (CHA) 2.0

Jeremy Lin (CHA) 0.6

Five Stars Standings

Player

TP

COUNT

Dwyane Wade

238

36

Chris Bosh

213

33

Hassan Whiteside

213

36

Goran Dragic

121

24

Luol Deng

121

22

Gerald Green

35

9

Tyler Johnson

32

7

Justise Winslow

22

6

Joe Johnson

13

2

Josh McRoberts

12

2

Josh Richardson

12

2

Amar’e Stoudemire

10

1

Beno Udrih

10

3

GOAT

2

1

The Heat welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night at the AmericanAirlines Arena.