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Reply To: NBA • Wednesday Service Plays • 12/9/15

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Preview: Miami At Charlotte

When: 7:00 PM ET, Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina

The Charlotte Hornets have put themselves in the battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with seven victories in their last nine games. Charlotte looks to enhance its position with seven more contests at home before the end of the month, starting with a visit from the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Hornets are 9-3 on their home court this season after Cody Zeller scored 20 points in a dominant 104-84 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday. Charlotte, which dropped its 12th straight at Miami in the season opener, defeated the Heat twice at home in 2014-15. Miami is playing only its sixth road game of the season after a 114-103 loss to Washington at home Monday despite making 59.4 percent of its shots from the field. The Heat expect to pick up their play on the other end of the court Wednesday after coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters, “Defensively, that was probably our worst game of the year.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), FSN Southeast (Charlotte)

ABOUT THE HEAT (12-7): Veteran guard Dwyane Wade led the way during the recent four-game homestand, averaging 25.8 points while shooting 58.1 percent from the field. Wade is scoring more than 20 points per game at home while producing 15.6 and shooting 41.3 percent on the road. Chris Bosh, who was ejected for arguing with officials after scoring 18 in the loss to Washington, is recording 17.4 points per contest and the Heat could get forward Luol Deng (hamstring) back for the first time in seven games.

ABOUT THE HORNETS (12-8): The 7-foot Zeller has stepped up in the absence of starting center Al Jefferson (calf), averaging 18.5 points and seven rebounds over the last two contests. “Big Al is out of here for a couple weeks,” Zeller told reporters Monday. “That’s my game (energy) and I have to bring it every night.” The Hornets, who are recording the least turnovers in the league per game (11.8), continue to get strong efforts from their backcourt group – led by Kemba Walker (17.4 points) and Nicolas Batum (17).

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Miami PG Goran Dragic may be snapping out of an early-season slump after averaging 17 points and making 20-of-34 from the field the last three games.

2. Charlotte G Jeremy Lamb is shooting 49.2 percent overall, but made just 7-of-21 from the field the last two games.

3. The Heat are 2-3 on the road and play four of the next five away from Miami.

PREDICTION: Heat 97, Hornets 96