Friday night marked the return to action of the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets following the All-Star break.
By defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-113 in Minneapolis, the Hornets won a rare prize and extended their winning streak to a season-best three games.
On the other hand, the Heat will be hoping for a quick recovery against the Hornets on Saturday night in Charlotte and will not want any part of an encore of their first game back.
After losing to the Milwaukee Bucks on the road by a score of 128-99, Miami is on a three-game losing streak.
The Hornets want to put on a performance similar to the one they put together last Friday.
LaMelo Ball has led Charlotte in scoring for three games in a row. At Minnesota, he scored 32 points, one point shy of his season-high, and he also had 10 rebounds and 8 assists. However, he played a team-high 40 minutes in the first half of back-to-back games.
Gordon Hayward set season highs with 27 points and 13 rebounds, so Ball wasn’t doing it alone.
The return of guard Kelly Oubre Jr., who had surgery on his hand, was another positive sign for the Hornets, who are beginning a four-game homestand with Miami. For the first time since Dec. 29, he played on Friday night, scoring eight points in 23 minutes off the bench.
Even though he was doubtful to play due to a sprained hand, the Hornets kept Terry Rozier on the court for 33 minutes.
In five of its last six games, Miami’s offense has failed to score 110 points. Jimmy Butler scored 23 points for the Heat on Friday, shooting 8-for-10 from the field. The remaining Miami players made just 28 of 82 attempts, or 34.1 percent.
The Heat may have benefited from their reserves receiving a significant amount of playing time, ensuring that the core players were not overworked.
After signing with the team on Monday, backup center Cody Zeller appeared in his first regular-season game and scored 10 points in 16 minutes. The game on Saturday will be his return to Charlotte, where he spent his first eight NBA seasons.
It is unlikely that Miami’s 22.5 percent 3-point shooting percentage of 9-for-40 will suffice.
On January 29, Charlotte won 122-117 at home against the Heat. When the Hornets came to Miami for back-to-back games on Nov. 10 and Nov. 12, the team won twice at home.