The Charlotte Hornets fought hard vs the Miami Heat, but once again they had issues closing in a 117-112 overtime loss. After the Hornets’ victory over the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte has now lost seven straight. The Hornets couldn’t contain Jimmy Butler, who almost messed around and got a triple-double. Butler scored 35 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists. The Hornets were led by Kelly Oubre, who scored 29 points. Terry Rozier scored 22 points, but was only 8-25 from the field and 3-10 from 3. Rozier had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but took a tough contested shot over former Hornet, Caleb Martin.
This game was just another in a trend for the Hornets lately. Outside of their losses to the Bulls and Grizzlies, the Hornets have either struggled to catch up and ultimately take leads or they struggle to hold leads. Finishing games has been an issue for this team this season. This can be attributed largely to injuries. LaMelo Ball is still out with an ankle injury and Gordon Hayward hasn’t returned from his shoulder injury. Not having LaMelo has been a big reason the Hornets have struggled in these close games. Ball makes the game easier for others and can create his own offense. Before his injury, Gordon Hayward was having a solid season – averaging 17 points on 47% shooting. Terry Rozier was also out for some time before returning vs Brooklyn. Rozier has struggled with his shot efficiency since returning to the lineup. To make matters worse, Dennis Smith Jr. went down with an ankle injury late in the game vs Miami and his status is up in the air.
The Hornets were already going to have a tough road back to the play-in-tournament, even if they were fully healthy. The East has gotten stronger this season. With the injury bug ravaging this team, the Hornets may continue on this slide. Even when they do get healthy it is going to take some time for players to get acclimated with each other and build their chemistry back up.
The Charlotte Hornets will take on the Miami Heat in South Beach again on Saturday.