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Heat’s third quarter struggles return in 122-113 preseason loss to Hornets

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A familiar weakness came back to haunt Miami in their second straight preseason loss.

Miami Heat v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Miami Heat got Hassan Whiteside involved in the offense early and often, swung the ball around to create good looks at the basket and were active on the defensive end to help open a double-digit lead in the first half against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night in their second preseason game. Then they got outscored 30-19 in the third quarter and never fully recovered in a 122-113 loss.

Sound familiar? Miami struggled many times last season after halftime and while they’re getting a good look at several developmental players with extended minutes, they largely drifted away from what was working in the first half. On the other end of the floor, Miami had little answers for several big time plays from Kemba Walker, Tony Parker, Willy Hernangomez, and rookie Miles Bridges as they worked tirelessly to turn the game around.

Whiteside had another big game with 14 points and 15 rebounds but was most effective and engaged on offense in the first half when his teammates were looking for him. He remained active on defense during his time on the court and was on a mission to grab any rebound near him (even if it meant swiping them away from his own teammates). Kelly Olynyk ended up tied with Walker for the game’s highest scorer with 18 points on an efficient 5-10 FG shooting, 3-4 from 3-point territory and 5-5 from the free throw line but overall the team struggled to score on 39-94 shooting (41.5%).

Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic never really got going offensively and the team, already shorthanded, suffered another injury when Derrick Jones Jr. took a hard fall and didn’t return to the game. X-rays came back negative on his shoulder but he could be out for an extended stretch during the preseason. Seven players did score in double-figures and while it may just be preseason, coach Erik Spoelstra will need to see some more consistency from his main rotation guys at some point before the regular season starts — especially with James Johnson and Dion Waiters out for the time being.

Miami wraps up their road trip with a game against the Washington Wizards on Friday before heading home for the final three games of the preseason.