MIAMI (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 24 points to lead six Charlotte players in double figures and the Hornets erased a 19-point deficit in the second half to beat the Miami Heat 97-91 on Friday night.READ MORE: Tax Refund Delays Likely To Grow As Filing Deadline Nears
Jeremy Lamb scored 16 points for the Hornets, who lost a first-round series in seven games to Miami last season — albeit a very different looking Miami. Nic Batum and Marco Belinelli each scored 12 points for Charlotte.
Hassan Whiteside led Miami with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Goran Dragic scored 14 points and Dion Waiters added 13 for the Heat, who lost a home opener for the first time in nine years.
The Heat shot 47 percent in the first half, 28 percent in the second half.
Miami stretched an 11-point halftime lead out to 65-46 early in the third — just before Whiteside went to the bench with his fourth foul, one of many issues in what became a total unraveling by the Heat.
Walker had a pair of 3-pointers in a 12-0 Charlotte run, the Hornets added a separate 9-1 spurt later in the third and wound up taking their first lead on a runner by Ramon Sessions with 8:51 left.
The Hornets never looked back. Walker found Batum for a 3-pointer with just under 3 minutes left to put the Hornets up 10. Miami got within three in the final moments, but no closer the rest of the way.
Hornets: Roy Hibbert started at center, played the first 4:30, and did not return because of right knee soreness. Cody Zeller started the second half in his place. … Frank Kaminsky (right foot strain) went through a pregame workout but was inactive. … Belinelli now has 11 regular season appearances in Miami with seven different teams.READ MORE: Florida Wildlife Officials Eye Shark Encounters
Heat: Team captain Udonis Haslem grabbed a microphone and addressed the crowd before tip-off, promising them that “we will play as hard as we can for you guys every night.” … The locker Dwyane Wade used for the last several years is now empty, not assigned to any current Heat player. … Wayne Ellington (right thigh bruise) and Josh Richardson (right knee) were again sidelined.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just recently turned 23, missed most of last season with a shoulder injury and still made the 200th start of his Charlotte career on Friday night. Miami’s entire starting five — Dragic (100), Whiteside (77), Justise Winslow (10), Luke Babbitt (2) and Waiters (2) — now have a combined 191 starts in Heat colors.
Heat President Pat Riley sat down with team broadcast outlet Fox Sports Sun before the game and raved about the job coach Erik Spoelstra has done with a new group that was largely assembled after Wade left for Chicago this summer (and before Chris Bosh failed his physical in September to essentially end his time with the team).
“There’s a saying that Spo uses a lot, and I like to use it myself now … when you look at a player, the player doesn’t care what you know until he knows how much you care,” Riley said. “Spo and his staff cares a lot about these guys and these young players.”
Hornets: Saturday, they play their home opener against Boston.
Heat: Sunday, the homestand continues when San Antonio visits.MORE NEWS: ‘Your Heart Shakes, Your Heart Drops’: Crisis In Israel Hitting Very Close To Home For Some In South Florida
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