Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) – Al Jefferson poured in 28 points with 10
rebounds to lead the Charlotte Hornets to their first victory over the Miami
Heat in over 4 1/2 years, a 96-89 decision at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Including last year’s four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals,
the Heat had won 20 straight meetings between the clubs since an 83-79 loss in
Charlotte on March 9, 2010.
The Hornets finally got some payback behind Jefferson’s prowess in the paint
and a strong defensive effort that limited Miami to a 39.0 percent performance
from the floor and an off-target 4-of-22 rate from 3-point range.
Kemba Walker delivered 18 points and seven assists to help Charlotte halt a
three-game overall skid, with Cody Zeller chipping in 13 points and eight
rebounds off the bench.
Dwyane Wade scored 25 points and Chris Bosh netted 23 in the loss, the Heat’s
second in a row since a 3-0 start to the post-LeBron James era. Bosh added 13
rebounds and Wade tallied seven assists.
Charlotte began to draw clear midway through the third quarter, putting forth
a 15-5 run over the last six minutes of the period to turn a tie game into a
Zeller hit a pair of free throws and rookie P.J. Hairston buried a 3-pointer
to put the Hornets up 67-60 with 2:34 left in the third, and Charlotte
gradually increased the margin as the Heat continued to miss shots.
Miami failed to record a basket over the final 6:37 of the quarter, misfiring
on nine straight attempts to conclude the frame.
The Heat did fight back down the stretch to get within striking distance, with
Bosh draining back-to-back jumpers to ignite an 8-0 push capped by Shabazz
Napier’s cutting layup off a Mario Chalmers feed that cut the deficit to 88-85
with 2:17 left.
Walker knocked down a clutch three on the ensuing possession, however, then
later sank a pair from the foul line to keep Miami at bay and give the Hornets
a 93-87 lead with 21.7 seconds remaining.
The Heat were cold during the game’s initial stages as well, missing seven of
their first nine shots from the field and falling behind 22-13 late in the
opening quarter after a 9-2 Hornets’ run.
Charlotte continued to hold a nine-point advantage early in the second quarter
until Bosh and Chalmers led Miami on a 12-3 spurt that forged a 29-29 tie near
the midway mark of the period.
The score remained tight through the remainder of the half, with the Hornets
taking a 46-44 edge into the break after Walker fed Gerald Henderson for a
Miami’s 16 straight regular-season wins in the series was tied for the longest
active streak by one team over another and one shy of the franchise record for
consecutive victories over a single opponent … The Heat had made at least
nine 3-pointers in each of their first four games … Charlotte forward
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed a second straight game with a rib contusion …
Wade registered his 700th career block in the fourth quarter, making him only
the sixth guard in NBA history to reach the milestone … Former Charlotte fan
favorite Josh McRoberts faced his ex-team for the first time since with the
Heat over the summer. He finished with two points in eight minutes.