The Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night in a 117-112 overtime victory. Despite Miami getting the win, fans were not impressed by the collective effort by the team.
“A win is a win, but man this team needs a change ASAP,” one fan said. “No reason we should be playing Jimmy this much in a game against the Hornets in November.”
Erik Spoelstra said the Heat’s close losses will only help them as the season progresses. Spoelstra said he felt the team is playing good basketball but has just been unable to close out wins.
“I think those are really good opportunities for your team to get better,” Spoelstra said. “That’s when you have the most focus, the most context. Everything has to get done with great detail. You also have to stay the course and understand what’s putting us in position to have opportunities to win and what’s hurting us. I think we’re playing better basketball. The last two games, when they end in a loss and they’re basically last-possession plays, sometimes that can distort your perception of how much you’ve been improving or rather you’re on the right track. We’re not looking for moral victories. That’s not what I’m talking about. We’re doing some things better and the result has been what we wanted it to be but you just keep on doing these and stacking these kind of days, eventually it turns in your favor.”
Even for the criticism, there was much praise for Jimmy Butler, who ended the night with 35 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He scored the Heat’s final eight points in regulation and had the game-tying shot in overtime that fueled Miami’s run to end the game. Butler also got to the free-throw line frequently, as evidenced by his 13 points on 15 free-throw attempts. His performance was the main highlight of the night.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 29 points for Charlotte, which got 22 from Terry Rozier and 16 from Jaden McDaniels. Mason Plumlee had a 13-point, 15-rebound game for short-handed Charlotte, which dropped its seventh straight.
“I’ve been around teams that didn’t care that much,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “We have a good group. Is it concerning? We’re in a tough spot. I mean, we have no room for error. We have to knock it out of the park here to win right now with what we have. And yet, we’ve done it a couple of times and we can do it again.”
So many of the Heat’s games have come down to the final minutes in the first month of the season. Nine of Miami first 12 games have been clutch games, which is defined as one that has a margin of five points or fewer inside the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Through the first 12 games last season, Miami had played only five clutch games. “I mean, we’re not trying to have that happen,” Adebayo said of all the Heat’s close games. “But it makes the game interesting. But all in all, we want to continue to build these habits. Going through these games, it helps us in the long run. It’s great experience. Being able to get this one is big for us.”
The Heat’s previous four games before Thursday also came down to the final seconds.
Hornets: LaMelo Ball (sprained left ankle) has missed all 13 games this season, Cody Martin (left quad soreness) missed his 12th and Gordon Hayward (left shoulder contusion) missed his fifth. … Charlotte fell to 1-2 in overtime this season. … The Hornets lost Dennis Smith Jr. in OT to what appeared to be a sprained left ankle.
Heat: Tyler Herro (left ankle) remained out. … Basketball enthusiast — and pretty good pickup player — Adam Sandler, the actor and comic who performed shows in South Florida earlier in the week, watched the game from a suite. … It was Miami’s first OT game of the season.
It was the 3,000th game in Heat history, including playoffs. Their record is 1,585-1,415.
As Hurricane Nicole was making landfall in Florida on Wednesday night, the Hornets were flying in from Charlotte — their flight path taking them over the storm. But the team landed in Miami without incident.
The teams play again Saturday in Miami.
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