Well, the Miami Heat's season looks a whole lot different than it did the last time Miami played a home game.
In a nip-and-tuck game that characterizes the pivotal Game 5 in a series knotted at 2-2, the Charlotte Hornets drilled 12 3s and made the decisive plays down the stretch to come away with a 90-88 win and take a commanding 3-2 series lead.
Nursing a one-point lead, Miami called a timeout with a minute left to go. On Miami's ensuing possession, Dwyane Wade found himself double-teamed on the left wing. He kicked the ball out to Josh Richardson with five seconds on the shot clock. Richardson, standing 27 feet from the basket, heaved up a shot that missed everything. Kemba Walker missed a jumper on the other end of the floor, but Courtney Lee (who else?) grabbed the offensive board and made a 3.
Miami had one last chance, and Dwyane Wade attempted a shot in the paint as Lee and Tyler Zeller rose in the air. Their bodies collided, but the referee felt the defenders went straight up. No call. The game was over. Miami's season hangs in the balance now.
We could talk about a lot of things the Heat didn't do well. Miami only scored 17 points in the final quarter, never getting into any sort of offensive groove. Even some of the Heat's biggest shots -- a Luol Deng 3 to put the Heat up two with 3:32 left to go, a Wade pull-up jumper a minute later -- were bail-out shots, not the result of good offensive play. But Miami also went through extended droughts -- what plagued the Heat in Charlotte.
The Heat's lineups to start the second and fourth quarters looked unfamiliar with each other and couldn't run a semblance of an offensive play. Erik Spoelstra brought Josh McRoberts in as the backup center, but his timidity hurt the Heat. McRoberts made a nice assist to Joe Johnson right after coming into the game, but didn't do much else. Gerald Green also got some first-half run, but missed all three of his shots. Spoelstra may turn to Tyler Johnson, who was active tonight for the first time in three months, in Game 6.
And for the Hornets, their hallmark throughout the season -- the 3-point shot -- came through in a big way. The Hornets made 12 3-pointers Wednesday night. Marvin Williams made 3, and Nicolas Batum, who returned after missing Games 3 and 4, hit two huge 3s in the fourth quarter. Batum looked a step slow Wednesday night, but Steve Clifford put him on Justise Winslow. Winslow, who still has to improve his offensive game, shot just 1-of-6 in Game 5.
Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field, and turned back the clock on a nice breakaway dunk in the second quarter. He also played much better defense tonight -- although his detractors will chide him for failing to box out Lee on that crucial offensive board. He'll need to exercise leadership the rest of this series if Miami is going to come away with a Game 6 win on the road. The last time the Miami Heat were in this position, LeBron James scored 45 points in Boston. Wade doesn't necessarily have to do that, but he needs to lead the way just like James did in 2012.