Miami started off focused on offense with Hassan trying to get going in the key. It was Richardson who would get on the board first for Miami. The Heat would struggle with turnovers early, but get things together not long after. Like always when these teams get together it was a back and forth battle early with Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker doing work for Charlotte.
Charlotte would go on a run and take a 7-point lead around the midway point of the quarter forcing the Heat to take a timeout and stop the bleeding. Tyler Johnson who was back from injury, worked to shake off rust right away driving to the basket often and getting involved with his teammates. The Heat would pull back within striking distance, thanks to great play by James Johnson and Goran Dragic. Miami’s reserves were also solid, scoring well on their own and keeping Charlotte at bay.
The Heat came out firing in the second, with Josh Richardson quietly scoring consistently. Bam Adebayo also had some great moments early scoring on an alley-oop tip and a slam the very next possession. Wayne Ellington also continued to put up treys, scoring on two very tough looks.
The Heat were oozing with chemistry, taking the lead and building on it. In a weird sequence around the five-minute mark, the Heat missed a lot of gimmes with multiple shots going in and out. It didn’t mean much, it was just really weird. Charlotte would begin to chip away at the Heat lead, but would take some questionable looks giving the Heat multiple opportunities to stretch out the lead. James Johnson had a great shot to end the half. They’d head into the second half up 54-48.
The Heat started the second quarter well on offense, but faltered defensively allowing Charlotte to make an 10-0 run and tie the game. While the Heat would have some nice offensive plays (i.e the Dragic and-one) they largely struggled on offense, entering one of their signature scoring droughts and letting Charlotte take control. For all the talk of no All-Stars on this Heat team, it’s moments like this where DWade used to will himself to the basket for buckets. These are the quarters that break the Heat, there’s no reason why the Hornets should go on a 22-2 run. Everybody just looked lethargic, the energy from earlier just vanished.
Miami would regain some momentum in the final three minutes going on a 9-0 run off of strong play from Bam. JRich and Justise. Their defense was also noticeably better. With the crowd once again on their side, the Heat would head into the fourth quarter down only seven.
Miami’s strong defense continued in the fourth quarter with multiple defensive stops. Their offense was fine, letting them chip away at the lead, but it was slow to start.
Thankfully it would pick up allowing the Heat to get within one. As per usual Kelly Olynyk had some big fourth quarter plays to spark some momentum. The game would go back and forth with the Heat just out of reach of the lead until 1:21 mark. Josh Richardson would dart to the rim for a huge and one and the Heat would go up two. On the next possession Kemba Walker would get fouled on a shot but miss one of the free throws leaving the Heat with the ball with 28.3 seconds left and a one point lead. A strange offensive set would lead to an amazing Wayne Ellington three and the Heat would break out of their slump with a great win.