Miami survived a tip-in try by center Al Jefferson that went in
and out just before the buzzer, beating the Charlotte Hornets 94-93
on Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The win came just in time for the Heat (8-6) because the
high-powered Golden State Warriors of Stephen Curry and Klay
Thompson are coming to town on Tuesday night.
"Don't ruin my night," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the media
after being asked about the Warriors. "They present incredible
challenges. That offense is high-octane. Not a lot of teams have
figured out how to stop that juggernaut."
After losing LeBron James to free agency, the Heat is no longer a
juggernaut. But forward Luol Deng, who had a game-high 26 points and
added eight rebounds and one key block, said the Heat will take the
win any way it comes.
"Even though Al (Jefferson) got that tip, and it looked like it was
going in ... I think this is part of growth," Deng said. "We've been
losing a lot of close games. You don't want it to be this close, but
it's a good experience."
Heat forward Chris Bosh, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds, made the
game-winning basket when he hit a fade-away jumper from the right
baseline with 31 seconds left to give Miami the lead, and the
Hornets failed in several chances to win in the final 30 seconds.
Guard Kemba Walker missed a shot with 25 seconds, but a turnover by
Heat guard Mario Chalmers gave Charlotte possession. Walker missed
again, this time with 2.9 seconds, and Jefferson's effort at the end
was in vain.
"We missed two or three good shots at the end," said Jefferson, who
had 22 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double
in games against the Heat. "Of course (I felt contact for a possible
foul call). But I wasn't expecting them to make that call at the end
of a game."
Chalmers had 20 points and 10 assists. The assists were one short of
his season high.
The Heat evened its home record to 4-4 and avoided what would have
been their first four-game home losing streak since March of 2011.
But the Heat's win was not without issues. Already without its
starting backcourt due to injury, Miami lost reserve center Chris
"Birdman" Anderson, who landed awkwardly and sprained his right
ankle in the first quarter. He immediately left the game and did not
Charlotte (4-10) has lost five straight games overall and is now 1-7
on the road.
"This stretch of games has taken a toll on our confidence," Hornets
coach Steve Clifford said of the losing streak. "Our guys are
working hard and want to win very badly, but there's some self
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The Heat led 53-44 lead at halftime, but Charlotte stormed back in
the second half, winning the third quarter 28-14. Charlotte outshot
Miami 58.8 percent to 35.3 percent in that quarter.
Charlotte led by as many as eight points, 85-77, with 6:42 left in
But the Heat rallied, and their final 17 points were scored by a
combination of Chalmers (seven points), Bosh (five points) and
rookie point guard Shabazz Napier (five points).
Napier finished with 14 points, three assists and two steals in 34
minutes off the bench. He often battled another former Connecticut
guard, Walker, who had 16 points, four assists and three steals in
"Those two jitterbugs -- they're two spinning tops," Spoelstra said
of the two ex-U-Conn guards. "I'm sure you probably saw some of
those competitive battles three years ago in practice. They have
incredible quickness and shiftiness, and they know each other's
games well. It was a good battle."
Now, after a night off, the Heat will have a very different
challenge with the Warriors.
"When you have the three-point shooting ability of Curry and
Thompson, up to 30 feet, sometimes that just comes down to make or
miss," Spoelstra said. "I'd rather not think about that until
NOTES: Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said SG P.J. Hairston
(sprained ankle) will be out "a few more days." ... Clifford said SF
Michael Kidd Gilchrist (stress reaction) "will be out a while. I'm
not talking about six weeks, but he still can't put pressure on his
foot." ... Miami is still without its starting backcourt of SG
Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and PG Norris Cole (dislocated finger). Cole
had played in 160 consecutive games before missing Saturday at the
Orlando Magic. His streak is the third longest in Heat history. ...
Despite the team's slow start, Heat F Chris Bosh recently offered
the following reason for optimism: "We're not in the West." ... Bosh
(32) and Heat PG Mario Chalmers (24) are coming off season highs in
scoring on Saturday against the Magic. ... ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy
said Heat F Shawne Williams is one of this season's "best free-agent
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