By Sam Perley, hornets.com
The Charlotte Hornets managed to overcome a rough opening quarter, but couldn’t pull out the victory as they fell to the hometown Heat, 109-106, on Monday night in Miami. This was the team’s first full game since losing starting shooting guard Nicolas Batum to a torn left UCL, which is expected to sideline him for the next 6-8 weeks.
The Hornets trailed by double digits midway through the second quarter, but used a 15-0 run to help build a 62-54 advantage heading into halftime. Charlotte eventually opened up a 10-point lead of its own in the fourth quarter before Miami closed the gap with an 11-0 stretch to go up, 100-99, with 4:51 remaining in the game.
A few minutes later with the score knotted at 105-105, Miami got back-to-back baskets from Justise Winslow to make it a two-possession game with just 15 seconds left on the clock. Charlotte had a couple of chances to tie it in the closing moments, falling short to move its preseason record to 1-2.
Dwight Howard led the way for Charlotte with 16 points, six rebounds and game-high four steals. The Hornets center recorded just one four-steal performance over the course of the entire 2016-17 NBA regular season.
Malik Monk tallied a game-high 19 points and a team-high four assists, although connected on just 7-of-22 attempts from the field. Fellow rookie Dwayne Bacon added 12 points and a team-high-tying eight rebounds while Marvin Williams (12 points), Kemba Walker (11 points) and Jeremy Lamb (11 points) also scored in double figures for Charlotte.
Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson each tallied a team-high 18 points for Miami in the victory. Kelly Olynyk (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Hassan Whiteside (11 points, 11 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles as well.
The long ball wasn’t kind to the Hornets as they knocked down just 5-of-26 attempts from three-point range (19.2 percent). Miami drained 11-of-28 shots from distance (39.3 percent), while racking up 20 turnovers compared to just 14 giveaways by Charlotte.
Both Walker (face) and Lamb (hamstring) exited the game in the third quarter and did not return. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal), Michael Carter-Williams (knees), Treveon Graham (hamstring), Julyan Stone (hamstring) and Marcus Paige (ankle) were all unavailable for Charlotte.
The Hornets will make their first preseason home appearance of the year starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11 against the visiting Boston Celtics. This game will also be nationally televised on ESPN.