Sports

Jones has two dunks in Hornets loss to the Heat

Bahamian Kai Jones, the 20-year-old 6’10” rookie forward of the Charlotte Hornets, got on the court for a little over seven minutes on Monday evening and showed his talent against the Miami Heat.

The Hornets lost 104-103 at the FTX Arena in Miami, Florida, falling to a 1-2 win/loss record in preseason play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Heat remained unbeaten in the preseason at 4-0.

Jones played the final 7:18 of the game. He finished 2-for-3 from the field for four points and added a rebound and a block, and was shielded off a key defensive play late in the fourth quarter. With the Hornets ahead 103-101 on the Heat’s last offensive possession, Jones positioned himself under the basket and was blocked out from a driving Javonte Smart by Micah Potter. He reached over the top in an attempt to get a block, but Smart laid the ball up and drew a foul on the play. He buried the free shot to give the Heat a 104-103 lead with 7.8 seconds remaining.

JT Thor had a driving shot altered by the Heat’s interior defense in the waning seconds and Miami held on for the win.

In three preseason games, Jones scored four, five and four points. He’s been at or above .500 shooting in each game.

Against the Heat, Jones entered the game at the 7:18 mark of the final quarter with the Hornets up by eight points, 92-84. About a minute later, he caught a pass from Ish Smith on the inside and rose up for a two-handed dunk. That shot gave the Hornets a 95-84 lead with 6:13 left.

The Hornets kept the pressure on, increasing the lead to 13 points, 101-88, about two minutes later when Jones caught an alley-oop pass from Smith and slammed it down.

After the Hornets took a 103-91 lead on a pull back jumper from Smith with 3:37 remaining, they went cold the rest of the way.

The Heat ended the game on an 11-0 scoring run in which they shot 5-for-9 from the field including Smart’s winning three-point play with 7.8 seconds remaining. The Hornets went 0-for-7 and had a turnover during that span.

Heat starting center Bam Adebayo led them in scoring with 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field. He added five rebounds. Kyle Lowry scored 15 points and added five assists and three steals. Duncan Robinson contributed 12 points and Markieff Morris added 11.

Miles Bridges paced the Hornets with 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. LaMelo Ball added 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Cody Martin contributed 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Rookie guard James Bouknight added 14 points and Smith contributed 10.

The Hornets fell behind 27-24 after the opening quarter, were ahead 53-47 at the break, and still led 78-77 going into the final period. They went ahead by as much as 13 in the final period before the Heat battled back.

Jones and the Hornets will host the Dallas Mavericks at the Spectrum Center, in Charlotte, North Carolina, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Bahamian Chavano “Buddy” Hield and the Sacramento Kings will play the Los Angeles Lakers at the Golden 1 Center, in Sacramento, California, at 10 p.m. on Thursday. The Kings were in action Monday night, but Hield didn’t play. They defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 107-93, to remain unbeaten at 3-0 in the preseason.

The other Bahamian in the NBA, DeAndre Ayton, is expected to experience action on Wednesday when he and the Phoenix Suns host the Trail Blazers at the Footprint Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. That game is set to get underway at 5 p.m.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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