Yesterday, the Miami Heat were coming off of an embarrassing 101-95 defeat versus the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, and were looking forward to bouncing back versus the Charlotte Hornets on the road. Unfortunately, prior to the game, it was announced that Goran Dragic would miss the game with a bruised left knee. Additionally, Tyler Johnson was also ruled out with a left ankle sprain.
The Hornets had been 6-4 in their last ten games entering their matchup versus the Heat, and for the Heat to win without two of their best players, they would have to play a very strong, collective game.
The game started out exactly how Miami wanted it to, with the Heat jumping out to a quick 22-13 lead in the first quarter. The team came out with a ton of energy to start the game, and it was clear that they were hungry after their disappointing loss versus the Nets. Although the Hornets made a small run of their own at the end of the first quarter and into the second, Miami quickly responded by closing the second quarter strong to push their lead back up to nine points.
However, it seemed as if Miami lost their energy in the third quarter, where they only managed to score 16 points while giving up 35 points. The team was careless with the ball, and their defensive intensity disappeared. This third quarter collapse resulted in the Heat being down 10 points going into the fourth quarter, and with it being the second end of a back to back for Miami, it would be tough to claw their way back into the game.
The fourth quarter started off strong for the Heat, and Kelly Olynyk quickly hit two threes to cut the lead to four early in the quarter. However, it seemed as if every time Miami came close to regaining the lead, Charlotte always had an answer, and the Heat trailed 99-89 with 4:29 left in the game.
Nonetheless, if there is anything we have learned this season is that this Heat team will continue to fight until the buzzer sounds, and that is exactly what happened. Clutch shots by Olynyk, James Johnson and Wayne Ellington cut the deficit to five, but with just 37 seconds left in the game, the Heat would need a miracle. It started with Johnson cutting off the ball from the top of the key to get a wide-open dunk, which cut the lead to three.
Then, in shocking fashion, Josh Richardson was able to rip the ball from Nicolas Batum as soon as the Hornets inbounded the ball, and he was able to find a wide-open Johnson who connected on the game tying three pointer with 30 seconds remaining.
After a key stop by Miami, Olynyk was fouled by Howard with 0.2 seconds remaining with the Heat in the bonus, and Olynyk was able to make one of the two free throws to seal the victory.
Olynyk had 14 points in the fourth quarter, and huge plays from Johnson and Ellington propelled the Heat to a seemingly impossible victory.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Miami Heat article is published, fill out our email notification form.