The Heat had to dig deeper into its roster Saturday night after one of its captains, James Johnson, exited in the first quarter.
Led by Josh Richardson’s career-best 28 points, the Heat found a way to survive again, defeating the Clippers 90-85 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat (15-14) moved one game above .500 for the third time this season, and will try to climb further Monday when it faces the Hawks in Atlanta.
Goran Dragic’s jumper with 1:19 left put the Heat in front for good as the Clippers mustered only two more shots that each didn’t find the mark.
Richardson made 10 of 16 shots, hit 6 of 8 from three-point range and made a pair of free throws late to put the game out of reach. The output surpassed Richardson’s previous high of 27 points on Dec. 1 against Charlotte.
Already without Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) — who missed his ninth game in a row— and Justise Winslow (left knee strain) — who was held out for the second consecutive game — the Heat lost James Johnson with 4:22 left in the first quarter with what appeared to be a sprained right ankle.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra surpassed Pat Riley for the most coaching wins in franchise history. Spoelstra is now 455-296. Riley’s record with the Heat was 454-395.
Spoelstra is only the second active coach to produce at least 450 wins with their current team, joining the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich.
Spoelstra and Riley are only the second pair of coaches to win at least 450 games with the same team. Riley (533) and Phil Jackson (610) also achieved that with the Lakers.
DeAndre Jordan finished with 12 points and 20 rebounds, but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.