Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Friday’s home game vs. Miami Heat

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Friday’s 110-105 Hornets’ home win over the Miami Heat that improved Charlotte to 23-21 overall:

… Malik Monk plays like a bull seeing red this season when he plays against the Heat. After scoring a career-high 36 points in a 129-121 overtime win at Miami on Feb. 1, Monk hit his first seven shots on his way to a 32-point performance on Friday. Afterwards, Monk admitted his motivation has been sparked by his former Kentucky teammate Bam Adebayo, now the Heat’s starting center. Said Monk: “I think Bam said a little something to me and, yeah, I was locked in from the get-go. I think he said something in the game in Miami, too. So I just locked into another zone.”

… Monk’s 24-point first half was the second highest scoring first half for a reserve in team history; Adam Morrison has the team record with 26 points in a Feb. 21, 2007 game at Minnesota.

… Charlotte rode Monk’s hot streak to a game-high 61-31 lead with seven minutes left in the opening half. But Miami made a furious late rally, closed the game on a 17-5 run and got as close as three points (108-105) to earn the Hornets’ respect. “When they were down by 30, they never looked down or hung their heads,” said Charlotte guard Terry Rozier, who 26 points and a career-high 11 assists.

… Rozier said the assist total was his career high at any level of basketball, but said the absence of injured rookie point guard LaMelo Ball (broken wrist) creates more chances for him. “I was on the ball more,” Rozier said. “I have more opportunities now that Melo is out.”

… Hornets coach James Borrego said many coaches fear getting such a big lead, knowing its hard to maintain that level of play throughout a game, especially since pushing tempo like his team frequently does can be turned against your team. “For us to be up 30… it’s a long game,” Borrego said. “I like being up. I let them play with pace tonight because that’s how they got the lead.”

… Charlotte is now 4-0 at home since fans were allowed back in Spectrum Center, with a season-high 4,215 in attendance on Friday. “The fans have added a jolt for us,” Borrego said.

… The Hornets are now 6-1 against the Southeast Division and have a chance to get the franchise’s best record against its division in team history. Previous bests were 20-8 against the old Central Division in the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons and 11-5 against its current Southeast Division rivals set in the 2017-18 season.

… Thursday trade deadline acquisition, veteran guard Brad Wanamaker, didn’t play in his first game with Charlotte.

What’s next: The Hornets host Phoenix on Sunday at 1 p.m. before heading out for a six-game road trip; Tuesday at Washington (7 p.m.), Thursday at Brooklyn (7:30 p.m.) next Friday at Indiana (8 p.m.), next Sunday at Boston (6 p.m.), April 7 at Oklahoma City (8 p.m.) and April 9 at Milwaukee (9 p.m.). After that road trip, Charlotte will play 14 of its last 21 games at home.