MIAMI (AP) — Goran Dragic scored 19 points off the bench, Dwyane Wade added 17 and came up with big plays late and the Miami Heat found just enough offense to beat the Charlotte Hornets 93-75 on Sunday in a game with major Eastern Conference playoff implications.
The win kept Miami (33-36) at the No. 8 spot in the East race — and moved the Heat two games up on No. 10 Charlotte (31-38), with 13 games left for both clubs.
The 168 combined points was the lowest in the NBA this season. Orlando and Chicago combined for 170 on Dec. 21. Charlotte’s 75 points were a season-low and tied the third-worst total in the NBA this season.
Miami outscored Charlotte 32-15 in the fourth quarter, pulling away from what was a 61-60 Heat lead going into the final 12 minutes. Wade, who nearly missed the game with a sore right hip, played nearly the entire fourth quarter — diving on his right side for a loose ball tie-up, blocking shots and making a 3-pointer that gave Miami a 13-point lead late.
Charlotte shot a season-worst 31 percent from the field and 19 percent from 3-point range. They were also the best numbers of the season for the Heat defense in both categories.
It was 39-39 at the half, a 24-minute stretch that featured one clank after another.
The Heat shot 33 percent, the Hornets shot 35 percent, and they combined to go 7 for 35 (20 percent) from 3-point range. Charlotte’s entire starting five was a combined 5 for 24 in the half.
Adebayo was 5 for 8 for Miami, but the other four Heat starters were 3 for 21 — Josh Richardson and Waiters going 0 for 13. Waiters made four 3s after halftime, but Richardson finished 2 for 17 from the floor.
Hornets: Cody Zeller (left knee soreness) did not play. “There’s still swelling there that we have to be cautious with,” coach James Borrego said. … It was the 36th and almost certainly final time that Parker got to play against Wade, including their NBA Finals matchups in 2013 and 2014. … Charlotte hasn’t won twice at Miami in the same regular season since 2001-02. The Hornets could have changed that Sunday.
Heat: Justise Winslow (right thigh bruise) was ruled out before the game. Wade was listed as doubtful with a sore right hip, but decided to play. … James Johnson played for the first time in 12 games, after missing time with a shoulder issue and then falling out of the rotation. He made a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. … Miami used its 24th different starting lineup.
There have been five games in the NBA this season where neither team reached 40 points by halftime — and Miami has been in three of them. The 39 points tied Miami’s fourth-worst first half total of the season, and was Charlotte’s third-worst total.
The 1 p.m. local tip time was the earliest of the season for the Heat — for now. Miami has a noon game at Toronto on April 7. Charlotte has now played a pair of 1 p.m. starts this season; the Hornets lost 118-108 to Portland in an early start on March 3.
Hornets: Host Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Heat: Visit Oklahoma City on Monday.
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