CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Hornets confidently went into the third quarter of Saturday night’s home game against Miami with a 51-46 lead after a second quarter where they outscored the Heat by 13 points.
That boost of momentum evaporated completely in a catastrophic fashion as the Heat (34-20) would go on a 35-8 scoring run in what became the Hornets’ (28-26) worst quarter of the entire season; Charlotte outscored Miami in the fourth quarter by four points but the damage was already done.
The Heat left the Spectrum Center with a 104-86 victory, handing the Hornets their fourth consecutive loss during a stretch where they have lost six of their past eight games.
Despite the recent rough stretch, Charlotte coach James Borrego said he still believes in his team’s playoff aspirations: “This is a strong locker room. These are good men and they want to win. It’s a tough league and nobody said it was going to be easy. You just have to fight your way through it. We’re a little dry patch here but we’ll figure it out together.”
Five-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler led the Heat — currently the second-ranked team in the Eastern Conference standings — with 27 points, six rebounds and four assists on 10-of-13 shooting from the field.
Bam Adebayo chipped in 20 points for Miami along with 12 rebounds as Tyler Herro provided 19 points off the bench on 5-of-8 3-point shooting.
Terry Rozier provided a team-high 16 points for the Hornets, who only shot 38.4% from the field (33-of-86) and 27.8% from behind the arc (10-of-36) during the contest. Miles Bridges added 15 points, five rebounds and five blocks as LaMelo Ball had 12 points and six rebounds.
In just his second game back after missing six games due to both a foot injury and the NBA’s Health & Safety protocols, Gordon Hayward was held scoreless, missing all seven of his shot attempts.
During the dismal third quarter when no shots were falling for Charlotte, frustration appeared to set in on the Hornets’ bench as James Bouknight was involved in a verbal disagreement with Borrego. The rookie — who didn’t receive any minutes during the game — was escorted to the locker room by an assistant coach.
After the contest, Bridges told reporters that he had spoken to Bouknight and that there were no hard feelings between the player and coach.
“Everybody on this team loves each other,” Bridges said. “It’s not hard for us to stay together and come together. I’m not worried about that — I know we’re gonna stick together. We just have to grind it out. This season is going to have ups and downs, and right now we’re at one of the downs. We’re trying to get back up and I think we will.”
The Hornets will have Sunday off before squaring off with the Toronto Raptors (28-23) in a Monday night home matchup.
“We have to just go on to the next game and worry about that one,” Ball said. “I feel like we’re a brotherhood so we should just pull each other closer, be tighter and let it out on the floor the next game.”