Tue, 11 May 2021

Hornets go for season sweep of Heat

Field Level Media
02 May 2021, 23:40 GMT+10

There ought to be even more buzz around the Charlotte Hornets these days with the return of rookie sensation LaMelo Ball.

The Miami Heat deserve some attention, as well, and will get it when the teams meet Sunday night in Charlotte, N.C.

The Hornets (31-32) began what they hope will be an ongoing stretch toward a fuller roster after the return of Ball and Malik Monk on Saturday night in a 107-94 home victory against the Detroit Pistons.

"The best way you can get better, too, is playing live," Ball said after his first game back. "I felt good."

Ball, a Rookie of the Year candidate, had been since March 20 because of a broken wrist. Ball was in the starting lineup on Saturday, providing 11 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in a 104-97 against the Pistons.

"It's good to have him back," Hornets coach James Borrego said. "We got some easy (baskets) with him in transition. I expect it only to get better from there."

Borrego said it might be ideal to dial back a few minutes of Ball's playing time after he played 28 minutes against the Pistons.

"I thought he handled it fairly well," Borrego said.

Monk, who missed a month with an ankle sprain, scored 11 points off the bench in support of Terry Rozier's 29 points and Miles Bridges' 27 points.

Ball said he'll concentrate on boosting the Hornets down the stretch.

"Mostly winning and go get (to the) playoffs," Ball said of the immediate goals.

Miami (34-30) is one spot ahead of Charlotte in the Eastern Conference pecking order. The teams are in seventh and eight place, respectively, in the standings.

While there were parts of Charlotte's backcourt back on the court, guard Devonte' Graham sat out Saturday night because of a knee contusion. That puts his status in jeopardy for the Miami game.

The Heat won 124-107 on Saturday night in Cleveland with six players scoring 13 or more points, led by Kendrick Nunn's 22. Miami has two straight game and three of its past four.

Heat guard Duncan Robinson achieved a special distinction by sinking six 3-point shots. He has 502 successful 3s in his 152-game career, making the quickest ascension to 500 made threes in NBA history. Luka Doncic held the previous record at 187 games.

"I'm certainly a beneficiary of the times because it's a skill that's valued and they encourage me to be aggressive in Miami," said Robinson, who has made 222 3-point shots this season, which ranks fourth in the league.

Jimmy Butler has been Miami's leading scorer in each of the first two games against Charlotte. Overall this season, he's led the Heat in scoring in 23 games.

The Heat has guards Victor Oladipo (knee) and Tyler Herro (foot) out with injuries and they aren't on the road trip. Then, forwards Udonis Haslem and Nemanja Bjelica were held out with illness for Saturday's game.

Charlotte has won the past two matchups with the Heat. Another victory would give the Hornets their first season series sweep of Miami in 19 years.

Miami is trying to reach .500 in road games. The Heat are 15-16 away from home, but they've won four of their past six games in Charlotte.

--Field Level Media

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