NBA: Hornets sting Heat with gritty comeback
LOS ANGELES – The lowly Charlotte Hornets cooled off the Miami Heat on Sunday, rallying for a 122-117 NBA victory that ended Miami’s three-game winning streak.
The Heat were a team on the rise after a week that included an impressive victory over Eastern Conference leaders Boston on Tuesday.
They led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but the Hornets, led by 31 points from Terry Rozier and with 27 from P.J. Washington managed to turn the tide.
“They are a good team, obviously, and they are hard to play against,” said Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, whose team is second-to-last in the East.
“And you have to have a lot of guys play well. We had a lot of guys play well. Guys off the bench, the starters. And we hung in there. When we were down or they made their runs, we made some plays and, again, hopefully (it’s) something we can build on.”
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 28 points, connecting on 11 of 14 shots from the floor with seven rebounds.
But the Heat’s defense wasn’t up to the task in the fourth quarter, when Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball scored 13 of his 19 points.
Washington had helped the Hornets pull ahead in the third, making three three-pointers on the way to 15 points in the period.
“We did not defend, in the first half, the way we’re capable of,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team remain in sixth place in the East.
“And they got into a great flow. We were playing great offensively as well, but it was a little bit of a dangerous game to play.
“Because they’re a deceptive team. They’ve had a lot of injuries, but when they’ve been fully healthy this team can score.”
After letting the Hornets gain confidence and find an offensive rhythm, Spoelstra said that in the second half “we did not step up defensively.”
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