CHARLOTTE — With just over a second on the clock in the overtime period of Thursday night’s meeting between Charlotte and Miami, Montrezl Harrell stepped up to the line with his new team trailing by a single point.
It had been a successful night for the North Carolina native — posting 24 points and eight rebounds — now in his fourth game with the Hornets (29-31).
However, at that crucial moment, only one of his two free throws went through the hoop.
The Heat (38-21) eventually took advantage of the Hornets’ missed opportunity, utilizing some clutch shots in double overtime to escape the Spectrum Center with a 111-107 victory. The outcome sends the Hornets into the NBA All-Star break on a crash-course skid where they have come up short in nine of their past 10 games.
“It’s been a grind of a season already in 60 games,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Coming back with that pop and that energy it’s going to be important for us these last 22 games. We have a lot of ground to make up here.
Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler combined for 17 of Miami’s 24 overtime points, finishing with 25 points and nine rebounds as well as 15 points and 10 rebounds, respectively.
After trailing by double digits in the first quarter, Charlotte jumped back to life and even a 14-point lead as Miles Bridges and Kelly Oubre Jr. provided a boost of offense on the court against their Southeast Division rivals. Bridges had a team-high 29 points with 11 rebounds while Oubre recorded 15 points (4-of-12 from the 3-point line).
Miami used a 22-7 run to tie up the game in the fourth quarter, sending it to overtime where the Heat found success with their long-range shooters. Duncan Robinson was 6-of-13 in his 3-point attempts with 21 total points as Bam Adebayo added 15 points and 13 rebounds.
“The way we are right now, we’re in a place of confusion a little bit at times during the game,” Oubre said. “More veteran teams come in and they capitalize on that. So I think that’s a big thing for us to learn and grow from.”
LaMelo Ball got the Hornets off to a hot start in the second quarter where they outscored the Heat by a 24-10 margin; the second year player finished with a triple-double: 14 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.
While Ball will be on the court in just a few days during Sunday night’s All-Star Game, Charlotte’s regular season will resume on Feb. 25 as the Toronto Raptors (32-25) come to town.
Bridges said his team needs to use the All-Star break to rest and regroup both mentally and physically: “We definitely want to stay in the playoff hunt so we need to get our minds right. We’ll be good — we just need to get some rest and get some players back.”