Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets Game Recap: Heat Exterminate Hornets in Home Opener

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(Miami, FL) — In their first game of the season, the Miami Heat (1-0) gave their home crowd at American Airlines Arena plenty to cheer about as they pulled out a 104-94 victory over the Charlotte Hornets (0-1) on Wednesday night.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the up-and-coming Heat squad, as they trailed 27-23 at the end of the first quarter and could not stop Hornets center Al Jefferson early on. In the first 12 minutes alone, Jefferson (who finished the game with 17 points and five rebounds) scored 13 points on six of eight shots.

The Heat flexed their muscle on defense the rest of the way to hold Jefferson and the Hornets in check, as Charlotte only managed to score 33 combined points in the second and third quarters. A furious Hornets rally near the end of the game gave the Heat a little scare after Charlotte cut a 20-point deficit to five points late, but the home team got the job done on the defensive end to secure a win.

“I gotta give credit to the cap UD (Udonis Haslem) because he got on us a little bit,” said Heat power forward Chris Bosh after the game. “We need that fire from him and he instilled that passion in us. He spoke the truth. We were giving up too many easy shots, fouling too much, and we were putting them on the line by giving them too many easy situations. We tightened that up and once we did that, it was off to the races and we got into our strengths.”

Bosh, who played in his first regular season game since February 11th, racked up a double-double with 21 points (five of 13 from the field) to go along with 10 boards.

“It’s always awesome any time I get to lace them up in an NBA game,” said Bosh. “I have to give credit to the crowd for coming out and wearing these awesome t-shirts. It reminded me of a playoff game just a little bit, but it’s good to be back.”

The 10-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion was one of four Heat players to score in double figures on Wednesday night, as shooting guard Dwyane Wade added 20 points, five assists and three boards on the night. Small forward Luol Deng, who iced the game late in the fourth quarter with a three pointer, finished with 13 points and three rebounds.

Newcomer shooting guard Gerald Green, who was acquired over the offseason following his tenure with the Phoenix Suns, came off the bench to score 19 points (seven of 15 shots made from the field and five of eight from beyond the arc).

“The most important thing is for every player to figure out how you can help us win, that’s the most important thing,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “There are a lot of different factors in this competition, of how you can help a team win. The majority of it has more to do with when you don’t have the ball in your hands.”

For the Hornets, point guard Kemba Walker led his team in scoring with 19 points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals. Backup point guard Jeremy Lin, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, added 17 points and two assists off the bench, while small forward Marvin Williams had a double-double with 10 points, 10 boards and three assists.

Up next, the Heat will travel to the Midwest to take on the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The primetime matchup, which is scheduled to tip off shortly after 7:00 pm ET, will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
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Andrew Salmi is a recent graduate of California State University, Fullerton after he previously attended Arizona State University. He is proud to be a staff writer for Heat Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewsalmi.