With their season on the line, the Miami HEAT came out on Friday night and controlled Game 6 virtually from start to finish. Miami withstood a late fourth quarter charge from the Charlotte Hornets to win, 97-90.
The HEAT were able to build up a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter, which proved to be too much for the Hornets to recover from.
Charlotte cut the lead down to nine points at halftime after closing out the first half on a run. Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 15 points at the half, while Cody Zeller added 11 points off of the bench.
Charlotte continued to work their way back into the game in the second half by closing the gap to three points in the third quarter. It seemed as though each time Charlotte got the game to within one possession, Miami answered by going on a little run to push the deficit back to a two- or three-possession game.
The Hornets continued rallying in the fourth quarter behind Walker. He scored 14 of his 37 points in the quarter and proved to be the main option down the stretch. The HEAT pushed the lead to nine points at one point, but Walker scored the next seven points for the Hornets to cut the lead to two points.
With the Hornets threatening late in the fourth quarter, Dwyane Wade hit two clutch shots within the last minute to seal the win and force Game 7 on Sunday. Wade scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to hold on to win.
Wade’s 23 points led the HEAT, while Luol Deng had 21 points, Goran Dragic had 14 points and Hassan Whiteside added 12 points. Dragic struggled for much of the night as he converted on just 6-of-17 shots from the field, but he was able to contribute in other ways and managed to help the team late.
For Charlotte, Walker led the Hornets with 37 points as he went 14-of-30 from the field, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. The Hornets tightened up on defense in the second half after holding the HEAT to 37 points after giving up 60 points in the first half.
The two teams will now turn to Game 7 in Miami on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST. Despite losing on Friday night, Charlotte will be going into that game with some confidence after taking Game 5 in Miami on Wednesday. If the Hornets are going to have a chance, they’re going to need to have a balanced scoring attack throughout the game.
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