Life after the latest Hassan Whiteside bone bruise diagnosis because ingloriously Friday with the Heat missing its first 11 shots and falling behind 16-1 to a Charlotte team missing its best player.
But it ended gloriously, with a 9-0 Heat run late in the game propelling Miami to a 105-100 win against Charlotte.
James Johnson hit three key baskets down the stretch and Goran Dragic — off with his shot all night — hit the go-ahead jumper with under 2:40 left. A Dion Waiters’ three then pushed the lead to six with just over a minute left and Charlotte never drew closer than four the rest of the way.
Josh Richardson, exceptional defensively but errant offensively for most of the season, had a gem of a game, with a career-high 27 points on 11 for 14 shooting, including a 5-for-5 third quarter. His jumper with 46 seconds left in the game extended Miami’s advantage to 8.
Richardson’s previous career high was 22.
That, plus good work from Wayne Ellington (14 points), Tyler Johnson (12 points), James Johnson (eight points, five rebounds, four assists) and Kelly Olynyk (10 points, six boards) helped Miami overcome Whiteside’s absence and a third consecutive poor shooting effort from Dragic.
Dragic opened 0 for 5 and Waiters 0 for 3 as part of that 0 for 11 start. Dragic finished with seven points on 3 for 12 shooting.
Waiters hit two threes in the fourth to close with 19 points on 6 for 14 shooting.
With Whiteside out indefinitely, Bam Adebayo started at center and had some very good moments defensively against Dwight Howard while closing with five rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
After shooting a combined 11 for 12 in the past two games, Adebayo went 0 for 3, scoring his only point on a free throw. But his work on the other end offset that.
Charlotte played without leading scorer Kemba Walker. Miami improved to 11-11 with defending champion Golden State visiting Sunday.