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Shorthanded Heat provide quality backup plan in 115-104 victory over Hornets

MIAMI – Even with four primary rotation players sidelined, the Miami Heat entered determined to make dual statements Wednesday night: begin to establish homecourt consistency and double down against an opponent.

Fortunately, the opponent was the Charlotte Hornets, allowing the Heat to push through the roster shortage and turnover overage on the way to a 115-104 victory.

In improving to 6-4 on the season at Kaseya Center and the start of a four-game homestand, the Heat made it consecutive victories over the same opponent in consecutive games for the first time this season.

Having escaped with a 116-114 victory Monday night in Charlotte, the Heat won both games of the pairing after splitting their previous consecutive matchups this season, against the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.

The victory came despite a season-high 22 turnovers, including 14 in the first half, offset by the Heat’s 15-of-30 3-point shooting.

So even in the absences of Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Haywood Highsmith and Josh Richardson, the Heat established needed footing behind a variety of ensemble efforts.

The Heat got 23 points from Duncan Robinson, 17 from Jaime Jaquez Jr., 17 from Kyle Lowry, as well as 15 points and 10 assists from Jimmy Butler.

The Hornets, playing in the injury absence of LaMelo Ball, got 28 points from Terry Rozier and 20 from Gordon Hayward.

Five Degrees of Heat from Wednesday night’s game:

1. Game flow: The Hornets led 23-22 at the end of the opening period, with the Heat then going into halftime up 56-45, after closing the second quarter on a 13-0 run.

The Heat then went up 21 early in the third period, the Hornets countered with a 9-0 run, but the Heat nonetheless went into the fourth up 91-70.

From there, the Hornets trimmed the Heat lead to 101-88 with 5:31 to play.

Unlike during Monday’s game, when the Heat almost blew a 14-point lead, there was no rushing of Butler back into action, as he watched the final period from the bench.

2. Rotation realignment: With Richardson also sidelined, due to the headache that had him missing the morning shootaround, the Heat had to alter an already-altered rotation.

In addition to Orlando Robinson starting in place of Adebayo (hip), Duncan Robinson in place of Herro (ankle) and Caleb Martin in place of Highsmith (back), the Heat played Jamal Cain in the reserve rotation spot of Richardson.

Butler and Lowry were the other two starters, with Jaquez Jr. and Kevin Love the other two reserves in Erik Spoelstra’s primary eight-player rotation.

The realignment had Jaquez playing as backup point guard when Lowry went out.

Then, after Orlando Robinson struggled during his initial stint, Thomas Bryant got a second-quarter shot when Love sat, with Bryant also playing in the fourth quarter.

3. Early turnovers: Entering the night fifth in the league at just 13 turnovers per game, the Heat had seven in the first 8:22 and were up to nine by the end of the opening period.

The nine were the most by the Heat in a first quarter this season and tied for their high in any period.

The Heat were able to survive the miscues, with Charlotte only able to turn those nine turnovers into four points. The Heat, by contrast, turned the Hornets’ seven first-quarter turnovers into 12 points.

Butler, Love and Orlando Robinson each had two turnovers in the first quarter.

The Heat had 14 turnovers at halftime, their high for a half this season.

4. The three thing: While Duncan Robinson went 4 of 6 on 3-pointers in the first half, Lowry solely was dealing in triplicate at halftime.

Lowry not only shot 3 of 3 on 3-pointers in the first half, his only attempts over the opening two periods, but he also converted all three free throws when fouled on a 3-point attempt in the second period by Charlotte’s JT Thor.

Lowry then also hit his first shot of the second half, also a 3-pointer, with Duncan Robinson following moments later with a 3-pointer of his own.

5. More double time: Not only did Wednesday night open a back-to-back set for the Heat, but the set closes Thursday night against the visiting Chicago Bulls, the first of consecutive games against Chicago.

The unconventional run of three home games in four nights concludes with a Saturday rematch against the visiting Bulls.

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