This game didn’t count for the Charlotte Hornets, but it still ought to sting.
The Miami Heat showed up in Charlotte Wednesday after playing Tuesday at home against the San Antonio Spurs. This being the preseason, the Heat rested several core players, including Jimmy Butler, Justise Winslow and Kelly Olynyk. Despite those absences, the Heat drilled the Hornets at Spectrum Center 108-94.
The Hornets defense was awful in the first half, which sent Miami on its way to a lead that grew to as much as 33 points. A bad habit from last season -- giving up 30 or more points in the first quarter -- was repeated, with the Hornets allowing 31 to trail by eight early.
The Hornets are now 0-2 in the preseason. They play the Philadelphia 76ers in Winston-Salem Friday night.
Amongst the wreckage of the Hornets’ night, at least point guard Terry Rozier validated what he did in Boston Sunday. Following a nine-point, nine-assist performance against his former team, the Celtics, in limited minutes, Rozier scored 18 Wednesday on 7-of-12 shooting.
One of the nuances of Rozier’s game worth noting: He has change-of-speed and stop-and-start off the dribble to throw off defenders. He’s not just a streak-to-the-rim kind of driver.
Coach James Borrego’s constant priority during training camp in Chapel Hill was defense, but that sure wasn’t reflected in the Hornets’ first-half performance. Charlotte allowed the Heat 63 points, 50 percent shooting from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range.
Borrego simplified the defensive scheme from last season, where protecting the rim takes precedence over guarding the 3-point line. But they can’t give up that many wide-open shots from 3, and it’s not as if the rim was shut down (32 Miami first-half points in the lane).
Making his case
Hornets backup point guard Devonte Graham made two 3-pointers. He also missed six 3s, so that’s not a good percentage. However, he looks confident launching from outside the NBA 3-point arc, and that’s a change from the first half of his rookie season.
If opponents aren’t worried about Graham taking and making 3s, then he’s dramatically less problematic to guard as a driver and passer. Graham had an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio as a rookie (nearly 4-to-1), but he had to become a more confident shooter from the perimeter to round out his game.
Beyond the numbers
Hornets guard-forward Nicolas Batum did not play in the second half, due to right Achilles soreness. Batum started the first two games of the preseason. If this injury lingers into the regular season, it would be tough; Batum provides perimeter defense and ball-movement on a roster hurting for both.
Batum being out meant extended minutes for shooting guard Malik Monk, who missed several training-camp practices and Sunday’s game in Boston due to a sore toe. Monk added some much-needed weight and upper-body strength over the summer. He was a liability defensively his first two seasons with the Hornets.