With four of their last five games at home, Miami had virtually no margin for error and managed to come through with a 105-100 victory over the Charlotte Hornets, who were without Al Jefferson & Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in their starting lineup.
Surprisingly, Miami was able to field their entire team sans Michael Beasley (illness) (and of course no Bosh & McRoberts). Dragic led the way with 28 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists on an array of layups and midrange shots. Luol Deng, who many feared may have been done for the season after a nasty spill in Indiana, scored 21 points on 9-17 shooting with 6 rebounds. Dwyane Wade added 19, but committed seven costly turnovers, while Hassan Whiteside had 12 points and 8 rebounds in 23 foul-plagued minutes.
Charlotte was led by Gerald Henderson, who scored 29 points on an array of outside shots. Kemba Walker and Mo Williams combined for 32 points, but shot just 12-37 combined.
Miami blew open the game in the 3rd quarter by going on a 16-0 run, but Charlotte would score the last 6 points and keep the deficit to within 7 points after three quarters of play. They would make a further push in the 4th quarter, getting to within 3 points a couple of times, but Goran Dragic would answer with timely buckets and Miami went on to make their free throws to seal the game.
Miami's effort on defense was quite inconsistent in this one, but Charlotte's well of outside jumpers ran dry midway through the 3rd quarter and they were able to do enough to hang on, though a more complete defensive effort will be needed against playoff teams in Chicago and Toronto coming up. Another quiet note is that Mario Chalmers and Henry Walker only played 9 and 7 scoreless minutes, respectively. Neither seemed to suffer through any injuries so it remains to be seen as to why they played so little.
Miami's still on the outside looking in for the postseason and even if they win their last four games, will need Boston and Indiana to lose a few to help them out. A section of Heat fans would prefer Miami to fall out of postseason contention in order to retain their 1st round pick, which would otherwise be sent to Philadelphia. I would direct those individuals to a fine post written by Albert Random of heathoops.com. There are reasonable arguments to be made for both sides, but considering Miami dressed nearly all of their injured players, it appears they have no intentions of harming their chances of winning.
Miami takes on Chicago on Thursday. Bulls star Derrick Rose may make his return for that matchup as he is listed as questionable after missing around two months following surgery on his meniscus.