CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Nicolas Batum had 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, providing a spark during a big third quarter that carried the Charlotte Hornets to a 91-82 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
The Hornets outscored the Heat 31-17 in the quarter to take command, with Batum contributing nine points, five rebounds and four assists in the period.
Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 22 points. The Hornets improved to 19-14, and have won five of their last six games.
Josh Richardson led Miami with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. The Heat fell to 10-23.
The Hornets’ third-quarter dominance has become habit. One night earlier, they outscored the Orlando Magic 35-13 in the period to grab a lead they held onto until the end.
Charlotte began the third with an 8-0 run and never relented. Though they shot 38.7 overall, the Hornets connected on 13-of-23 attempts (56.5 percent) in the third.
Miami, meanwhile, is struggling to find its footing and used its 12th different starting lineup of the season.
Richardson seemed to have a breakthrough when he had 13 points in the second quarter on 5-for-7 shooting to lead the Heat to a 49-42 halftime edge. Miami outscored Charlotte 13-6 in the final 4:15 of the quarter, a span that included eight points, including two 3-pointers, from Richardson.
Richardson was just two points shy of his career high of 22 points set earlier this season.
Hassan Whiteside, from nearby Gastonia, North Carolina, had eight points and 10 rebounds for Miami.
Heat: Goran Dragic started Thursday’s game, although he had been questionable with lower back spasms. He missed Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma City. . Miami’s 10-22 record after 32 games is the worst for the franchise since the Heat began 2007-08 with 24 losses in that same span. The Heat lost 67 games that season.
Hornets: Walker recorded his 7,000th point with the Charlotte franchise when he hit a 3-pointer with 4:16 left in the first quarter. Walker is the fourth player in franchise history to reach that mark, and became the second-quickest by doing so in his 396th game. Larry Johnson passed the mark in his 355th career game with the Hornets. . Marco Belinelli missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. …. Only Anthony Mason (seven) and Larry Johnson (five) have logged more career triple-doubles with the Hornets than Batum, who has three with Charlotte and seven in his career.
Heat: Travel to Boston on Friday.
Hornets: Host the Cleveland Cavaliers for a New Year’s Eve tipoff Saturday.
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