Hornets will try to break Heat's stranglehold
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If Saturday night is anything like last season, the Charlotte Hornets will be the perfect guests for the Miami Heat's 2018-2019 home opener.
The Heat (1-1), who were off Friday after Thursday's last-second win over the Washington Wizards on Kelly Olynyk's putback, went 4-0 against the Hornets last season.
In fact, the Heat have won six in a row against the Hornets.
However, the Hornets (1-1), who routed the host Orlando Magic 120-88 on Friday night, have a new coach this season, with James Borrego replacing Steve Clifford.
Charlotte's star is still point guard Kemba Walker, 28, who is averaging 33.5 points so far in the young season. Through two games, Walker -- a two-time All-Star -- is shooting 12 of 23 on 3-pointers. His 12 3-pointers in the first two games of an NBA season ties a league record.
Behind Walker, the Hornets have this season added veteran point guard Tony Parker, a six-time All-Star and a four-time league champion who is in his 18th NBA season.
There have already been times this season when Borrego used Parker and Walker in the same lineup.
"I love it, and Kemba loves it because it gives him some rest (from playmaking duties)," said Parker, 36. "Kemba is our best shooter. This saves his legs for shots, and he can just come off picks."
But since the Hornets will be playing on consecutive nights on Saturday, it's possible that Parker will be rested or at least play minimal minutes. He played 16 minutes on Friday and went scoreless, missing all five of his shots.
Miami, meanwhile, is battling injuries as starting shooting guard Dion Waiters is out with a knee injury. Three other Heat players are questionable due to injuries: forwards James Johnson (hernia) and Justise Winslow (hamstring) and shooting guard Wayne Ellington (ankle).
In Thursday's 113-112 Heat win at the Wizards, starting wing Josh Richardson led Miami with a game-high 28 points. Richardson's effort bailed Miami out on a night in which star point guard Goran Dragic was held to eight points on 3-of-18 shooting. He also had three turnovers.
Fortunately for the Heat, Olynyk, who had nine points and four rebounds in 15 minutes, got the winning putback with 0.2 of a second left.
"I just kind of popped loose," Olynyk said, "right place, right time."
Heat guard and 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade, playing his last NBA season at age 36, is hoping for similar luck, but he is off to slow start.
Used so far this season as a key player off the bench, Wade is averaging just 9.0 points and shooting 29.2 percent from the floor. His turnovers are also high -- 3.5 in 26 minutes per game.
But Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade, who is also averaging 9.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists, will be ready to go once again on Saturday.
"He wants to play, and we want him to play," Spoelstra said. "He's in great shape."
Updated October 19, 2018