Heat edge Hornets as race for last East playoff spot tightens

Paul Mata
Heat edge Hornets as race for last East playoff spot tightens
Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat hang on to the 8th and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference



CHARLOTTE, USA – The Miami Heat used a fourth-quarter run to pull away from the Charlotte Hornets in a closely fought game, 91-84, in the NBA on Wednesday, March 6 (Thursday, March 7, Manila time). 

The key win put the Heat ahead of the race for the 8th and last playoff spot with a 30-34 record in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets dropped to 10th place with a 29-35 record as Orlando moved up to 9th with a 30-36 slate.

Kelly Olynk led all scorers with 22 points, 11 rebounds, going 5-for-7 from the three-point line and playing 44 minutes. 

“That was a big defensive game today,” Hornets forward Nic Batum said post-game. “We pretty much played zone all game on both sides, them and us. Shooting wasn’t really there for both teams. Both teams had a little run. They had one at the start of the 4th, we had one to end the game. That was a big defensive game.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was all pumped after the win.

“At this point, who cares about the record? Come on. We’re in a playoff race right now,” said Spoelstra. “Everybody feels alive in that locker room, even before the game. There are unfortunately so many meaningless games right now in this league because of the lottery. Neither one of us (Miami and Charlotte) are part of that. So, this is fun. This is a great time of the year, this is great for our guys to be in a battle like this.” 


It was a tight contest through the first 3 quarters with 10 lead changes and 7 instances where they were tied.  

The game was turnover-prone, combining for 37 turnovers throughout the game, with both of them employing a zone defense. 

However, it was in the 4th quarter where the Heat defense pulled through with Hassan Whiteside providing some timely blocks and rebounding. They went on a 15-0 run in a four-minute span in the 4th quarter, with Olynk converting on two three-point baskets and a dunk.

The Hornets were still able to pull within 4 at 88-84 with 51.9 seconds to go but a big offensive rebound by Dwyane Wade put the game in the Heat’s control 

Frank Kaminsky and Kemba Walker each scored 20 points for the Hornets but struggled to get any contribution from the other players. 

The Hornets are still up 2-1 in the regular season series against the Heat with one more game to be played on April 17. 

Game notes: As the last regular season game for Dwyane Wade in Charlotte, the Hornets showed a video tribute for the Heat guard during the first timeout of the game. Miami Heat fans also came in droves to watch the game and was even overpowering the chants of the home crowd with, “Let’s Go Heat!” – Rappler.com


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