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Heat back to .500 with 104-98 road win versus Hornets

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Charlotte’s late run almost steals victory away from Miami.

NBA: Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat scratched and clawed their way back to .500 with a 105-100 win on the road against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. Several players reached double-digits in scoring to help mitigate the loss of Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow. However, the Heat once again gave up a large lead and it almost cost them a much-needed win.

Led by three early field goals from Dion Waiters, the Heat were aggressive by consistently attacking the paint but yielded 30 points to the Hornets in the first quarter. Rookie Bam Adebayo had his moments, including a powerful dunk off a lob in the game’s opening minutes, but got into early foul trouble battling Dwight Howard and was replaced by seldom-used forward Jordan Mickey (8 points, 7 rebounds in 15 minutes), who had some encouraging moments to help make a case for more minutes. Kelly Olynyk, in his fifth straight start, also struggled with early foul trouble and was forced to sit out after picking up two fouls but came around to finish with 11 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes.

Reserve guards Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington led the team with 16 points each thanks to some hot shooting from long distance. Johnson was a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc while Ellington went 5-10. Though they were shorthanded, Miami was able to count on balanced scoring with double-digit points from seven out of the nine players who entered the game. Goran Dragic and Mickey each finished with eight points. Olynyk, James Johnson, Josh Richardson, and Adebayo all ended up with 11 points.

The Heat led by as many as 17 points in the second half before the Hornets cut the lead to single digits with three minutes left in the game and got it to within 100-98. They grabbed their second victory of the season against the Hornets earlier this season at the AmericanAirlines Arena.