Sometimes NBA preseason exhibitions are more about agendas than competition.
Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford used Thursday’s matchup with the Miami Heat as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Miami coach Erik Spolestra treated it more like a tryout for the Heat’s Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
That made for an uneven, not particularly entertaining 96-88 victory for the Hornets at the Spectrum Center. The Hornets (3-3 in the preseason) led by as many as 20 points in the first half, only to let the Heat lead by one late in the third quarter. Miami (4-3) got back into the game by making 11 of its first 27 three-pointers.
The Heat sat out Goran Dragic, their normal starter at point guard, and small forward Justise Winslow. Starters Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters never reached 20 minutes in playing time. Whiteside likely played Thursday only because he grew up in nearby Gastonia.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Frank Kaminsky: He’s certainly not Marvin Williams yet, but all the ways Kaminsky can score were on display Thursday night.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: He had his most active game since back from two shoulder surgeries, finishing with a double-double in points (10) and rebounds (13).
Rodney McGruder: He came off Miami’s bench to score 18 points and hit four 3-pointers.
▪ The favorites for the last two spots on the Hornets’ 15-man roster appear to be Aaron Harrison and Treveon Graham. Harrison made it last season as an undrafted rookie.
▪ Graham is a small forward who played in the Development League last season. Coach Steve Clifford said over the summer he wanted another small forwrd whose strengths were defensive. Graham fits that description.
▪ Perry Ellis, Rasheed Sulaimon and Mike Tobey could all end up playing for the Hornets’ new Development League franchise, the Greensboro Swarm.
▪ An nba.com survey of general managers named the Hornets’ Stephen Silas as second-best assistant in the league.
▪ Surprised more season-ticket holders didn’t show up for this one. The other home exhibition was head-to-head with Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.