The Miami HEAT defeated the Charlotte Hornets 112-99 Wednesday night at Spectrum Center. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 33 points.
1. Dragić Gets The Party Started
Throughout the league, there are certain players who thrive in high-pressure situations. One of those players, of course, is Goran Dragić. With a critical game on Wednesday night, the Slovenian rose to the occasion like he has multiple times in his career.
From the very beginning, Dragić was locked in and focused on the task at hand. As such, he scored 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half thanks to a multitude of drives, pull-up mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers. Simply put, Dragić found success regardless of who was defending him.
That was also the case in the second half, as the point guard continued to find the range from distance. He also had some nice attacks to the basket, including this one at the end of the third quarter where he showed fancy footwork.
In addition to his 33 points on 13-of-21 shooting, including 5-of-9 from three, Dragić also had four assists and two steals.
2. J. Johnson Can’t Miss
All season long, James Johnson has proven to be an extremely versatile player. Unsurprisingly, that was on display in more ways than one against Charlotte. Despite coming off the bench all year, Johnson looked as comfortable as ever in the starting lineup on Wednesday night. Additionally, he set a career high with six made threes on the evening.
While all that was important, you always have to mention defense when it comes to the 30-year-old. Perhaps the best sequence of the game came early on in the fourth quarter courtesy of Johnson.
With 9:52 left in the period, Nicolas Batum swiped an errant pass from the forward, but Johnson made up for it with an amazing hustle play to force the miss from Batum. That fantastic play led to a Hassan Whiteside jam on the other end.
In all, Johnson scored 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-7 from deep, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists.
3. Whiteside Makes History
After a slow start to the contest, Whiteside certainly made his presence felt in the second half. How so? Well, the big fella tallied 13 points and 15 rebounds after halftime and was key in a 14-0 third-quarter run for the HEAT. Naturally, one of Whiteside’s best plays of the night came during the flurry.
With 8:14 left in the period, the 7-footer received the ball near the right block from Josh Richardson. From there, Whiteside gathered himself and hit the difficult shot over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
That play energized the 27-year-old, who also protected the rim quite well throughout the contest. As a result, he tallied a plus-23 rating to go along with his 13 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks. Whiteside’s double-double was his 54th of the season, which set the single-season franchise record.
4. Three-Point Barrage
Although Miami got off to a quick start from beyond the arc (11-of-21 in the first half), nobody could foresee what was to come later. Thanks to seven different HEAT players hitting at least one three, the team set a franchise record with 21 made treys. While Dragić and Johnson led the charge in that category, Richardson went 4-of-7 from downtown against the Hornets. As a team, Miami shot 21-of-40 (52.5 percent) from three-point land.
-Luke Babbitt (strained right hip flexor), Dion Waiters (sprained left ankle), Justise Winslow (right shoulder surgery) and Josh McRoberts (left foot stress fracture) sat out.
-The HEAT will now head to Toronto to face the Raptors on Friday at 7:30 PM. Miami’s next home game won’t be until Monday, April 10 against the Cavaliers at 7:30 PM. Tickets for that game can be found here.