Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Monday night’s game at the Miami Heat

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Monday’s 129-121 Hornets’ overtime win at the Miami Heat that improved Charlotte to 10-11 overall:

… The storylines for this one were endless, but Malik Monk’s career-high 36 points has to be at the top of the list. Monk tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of training camp and didn’t play at all in 13 of the first 17 games of the season. But coach James Borrego has praised Monk for being ready despite not playing. Was he ever ready on Monday. The fourth-year veteran hit six 3-pointers in the first half and added three more in the second half (and overtime). None was bigger than the 3-pointer with 16.3 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 113. “Malik’s been fantastic,” Borrego said. “He makes us so much more dynamic. He takes our offense to another level.”

… Monk’s 36 points off the bench were a franchise record, eclipsing teammate Devonte’ Graham’s 35 points in a Nov. 5, 2019 game against Indiana. “I had corona set me back for a little bit,” Monk said. “I came back and thought I was going to be in the rotation. I wasn’t in the rotation and I was pissed. (But) you can’t take what coach is doing personal. He’s just trying to win.”

… Charlotte won without starting guard Terry Rozier after he sprained an ankle in Saturday’s 126-114 win over Milwaukee; Rozier was ruled out for Monday’s game following pregame warmups. And starting forward P.J. Washington left the game with a sprained ankle late in the third quarter of Monday’s game and did not return.

… With Rozier out of the starting lineup, rookie LaMelo Ball made his first career start; Ball had 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes but was limited somewhat by foul trouble. “I thought he had a solid game,” Borrego said of Ball. “He made some big plays for us down the stretch. I thought it was a very good start for him. I thought the foul trouble disrupted him some.”

… When Ball’s points, rebounds and assists are 25 or more this season, Charlotte is 8-2. When Ball’s numbers in those categories are 24 or less, the Hornets are 2-9.

… Charlotte trailed by 11 points in the first half and was down 108-98 with 3:48 to play in the game before closing out strong and dominating the overtime period. “I love the spirit of this group,” Borrego said. “They don’t die. They don’t quit.”

… To force overtime, Borrego called timeout with 21.6 seconds left in regulation to call the play for Monk that resulted in a tying 3-pointer. “These end-of-game situations don’t just happen,” Borrego said. “We work on these things.” Added Monk: “That was the play coach drew up for us. I just had a little space of the dribble handoff from Cody (Zeller) and that’s all I needed.”

What’s next: Charlotte meets Philadelphia on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Philadelphia has beaten Charlotte 13 straight times since 2017, including a back-to-back home wins over the Hornets on Jan. 2 and Jan. 4 earlier this season.