Welcome home, Hassan Whiteside.
The Gastonia, North Carolina, native recorded a triple-double off the bench to help lift the Miami Heat to a 98-95 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Whiteside scored 10 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. His 10th block was also his 10th rebound as he snatched a Marvin Williams shot out of the air.
“When the ball is around my elbow, I’m going to try to catch it,” Whiteside said. “Then I’m going to get the ball to D-Wade, so he can do D-Wade stuff.”
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Whiteside’s snare led to a transition bucket by Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat with 22 points.
After the fast break, Williams scored the game’s next seven points and the Hornets held a 93-90 lead with 1:10 remaining.
But Wade and Chris Bosh, who added 20 points, showed their All-Star form to give the Heat a two-point advantage with 23.5 seconds remaining. Wade’s steal with 4.3 seconds remaining led to a Luol Deng dunk to cinch the game.
Friday’s game was Miami’s 20th of 2016 and 15th on the road, but the Heat (29-22) has now won six of seven to improve to 13-13 on the road. The Hornets (24-26) are one of the NBA’s best home teams (17-9) and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said “it’s hard not to notice” what the Hornets have done at home, including Charlotte’s 99-81 win over the Heat on Dec. 9.
Bosh said the Heat is “starting to have a little bit of momentum” heading into the All-Star break.
“We’re playing good, confident basketball right now,” said Wade, who scored 12 points in the second quarter following a scoreless first. “No matter what is going on in the game, we feel that we have an opportunity to win.”
Miami finished 0 for 9 from three-point range, the first time since March of 2012 — a span of 323 games — the Heat failed to make a three-pointer.
Amar’e Stoudemire got the start at center over Whiteside, whom Spoelstra said isn’t quite ready for a full workload after coming back from an oblique injury. Whiteside, who had about 18 friends and family in attendance, entered with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter and had two blocks within a minute.
“It’s amazing to come out here in front of my family,” said Whiteside, whose triple-double was his second this season following 19 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocks Jan. 15 at Denver. “A lot of them haven’t seen me play in the NBA. It was really important.”
Williams scored nine of his game-high 27 points in the first quarter to help the Hornets hold a 31-25 lead. Nicolas Batum scored 21 points for the Hornets (24-26) and Kemba Walker added 20.
The Heat opened the second quarter with an11-4 run to take a 36-35 lead, but a Jeremy Lamb dunk on a 3-on-1 returned the lead to the Hornets.
When the ball is around my elbow, I’m going to try to catch it. Then I’m going to get the ball to D-Wade, so he can do D-Wade stuff.
Despite missing the morning shootaround because he wasn’t feeling well, Goran Dragic started and finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
“Goran is a gritty competitor,” Spoelstra said. “His looks belie how competitive he really is. He didn’t feel well, but he won’t make any excuses.”
The Hornets held a 73-67 advantage heading into the final period. After the Hornets scored the first points of the fourth quarter on a Jeremy Lin layup, the Heat went on a 13-2 run and grabbed the lead on a Dragic jumper. Gerald Green gave Miami an 80-77 lead, but the Hornets tied it up when Spencer Hawes kicked it out to Williams, who knocked down a wide-open three.
Although Spoelstra said there’s no time to exhale before Sunday afternoon’s contest against the Clippers, the Heat plays five of its next six at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Hornets honored former Heat star Alonzo Mourning, a seven-time All-Star and Hall of Famer who began his career in Charlotte, during halftime Friday night.
Mourning’s winning shot to beat the Celtics in the first round of the 1993 NBA playoffs is one of the highlights in franchise history. The play ranks second among the top moments in Mourning’s career — behind only winning an NBA title with the Heat in 2006.
The play was designed for Dell Curry, now a Hornets broadcaster, and Mourning was the last resort. When the Celtics overplayed Curry, the inbounds pass came to Mourning and he knocked down the winner from the top of the key in the final second.
Mourning is currently the Heat’s vice president of player programs.