Barry Jackson

Heat coach Spoelstra equals Pat Riley’s wins record with stellar Tyler Johnson game

Wayne Ellington hit 5 of 10 threes, making him 16 for 26 from beyond the arc over his past three games. He entered 14th in the league in three-pointers with 70 and 22 nd in accuracy at 42.9 percent.
Wayne Ellington hit 5 of 10 threes, making him 16 for 26 from beyond the arc over his past three games. He entered 14th in the league in three-pointers with 70 and 22 nd in accuracy at 42.9 percent.

Five takeaways from the Heat’s 104-98 win over the Hornets, which pushed Miami to 14-14 with the Clippers visiting AmericanAirlines Arena at 8 p.m. Saturday:

Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington are giving Miami a huge lift the past two weeks amid uneven play by Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic.

Johnson and Ellington each scored 16, and all of those points were needed on a night Waiters and Dragic combined for 20 points on 7 for 24 shooting.

"When you have guys coming off the bench who can go for 20 in a quarter, it’s tough," center Kelly Olynyk said of the Johnson/Ellington tandem. "They are making guys pay and making it easier for everybody else."

Ellington hit 5 of 10 threes, making him 16 for 26 from beyond the arc over his past three games. He entered 14th in the league in three-pointers with 70 and 22nd in accuracy at 42.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Johnson hit four three-pointers in four attempts – including two big ones during a third quarter run – and is now 20 for his last 32 on threes. He missed Wednesday’s loss against Portland with a migraine.

"None of us were really concerned," coach Erik Spoelstra said of Johnson’s errant shooting over the first five weeks of the season. "He spent time in the gym and is letting the game come to him. He’s in a great flow."

Johnson shot 5 for 6 overall from the field, meaning he’s 36 for his last 56.

Johnson said he has changed nothing with his mechanics and always figured his shooting would even out.

"It’s the same shots I’ve been shooting, but they’re going in," he said. "It’s the same routine I’ve had." 

Waiters and Dragic continue to struggle with their shot. Waiters hit a big 12-foot jumper to end a 13-2 Hornets run and put the Heat up four with 1:09 left. But he finished 5 for 14 from the field and has now made less than half his shots in 16 of his last 18 games. He discussed his struggles here earlier Friday.

Dragic, meanwhile, scored eight points on 2 for 10 shooting.

Dragic’s slump is puzzling. He scored in double figures in Miami’s first 14 games (including at least 20 in seven of those games) but has failed to reach double figures in seven of Miami’s next 14.

He has made four or fewer baskets in six of Miami’s last nine games, including two 3 for 12 nights, one 3 for 11, one 1 for 5 and one 4 for 12, on top of Friday’s 2 for 10.

Jordan Mickey can play. With Hassan Whiteside still out with a knee injury and Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo in early foul trouble, Spoelstra summoned Mickey, who had played just 45 minutes (and made six appearances) in the Heat’s first 27 games.

Mickey, in 15 first half minutes, set a career high with seven rebounds and matched a career high with eight points. He didn’t play in the second half.

"He’s a Miami Heat type guy," Spoelstra said. "That’s a big-time credit to Jordan Mickey and his character because he develops and he works. All I see behind the scenes is him spending time with [assistant coach] Juwan Howard, working on skill development, working on learning our system and working on staying in unbelievable shape. He is in the best shape that he’s been in this past week."

Before the season started, Heat vice president/player personnel Chet Kammerer said this about Mickey: "We thought he had potential. We’ve followed him. We like his athleticism. He’s a little undersized as far as height but has a plus eight wingspan.

"We like the fact he’s a natural shot blocker. Erik loves guys who can affect the game in the paint. He’s got vertical spacing and he’s got good feet and the potential to be a real good defender. He’s a good fit for our development staff to work with. I don’t think he has great range; it needs to improve with his size."

This was the 47th career game for Mickey, who played in 41 for Boston over the previous two seasons.

“Coach Spo has some trust in me," Mickey said. "I have the mindset to always be ready. I got good looks and played some pretty good defense."

The Heat needed it because Olynyk picked up his third foul with 1:20 left in the first quarter.

Adebayo had three dynamic dunks but picked up his third foul late in the second quarter. Both finished with four fouls but each contributed with 11 points and five rebounds apiece.

"Bam and Kelly complement each other because of their skill sets," Spoelstra said.

Meanwhile, center A.J. Hammons – acquired in the Josh McRoberts deal with Dallas – continues to languish in Sioux Falls, even though he counts against the Heat’s 15-man roster whether he’s playing for the Heat or Miami’s D-League team in South Dakota. Releasing Hammons wouldn’t make sense because he’s guaranteed $1.6 million next season

Spoelstra tied Pat Riley for most wins in franchise history, with 454, and did it in 99 fewer games. Spoelstra is now 454-296. Riley was 454-395.

"I don’t know, that would seem like a misprint to me," Spoelstra said of equaling Riley’s franchise record. "Pat has meant everything to me as a coach and as a mentor. I want to win tomorrow night but I don’t want to pass coach Riley in wins. I think of him as the guy who has all the records. He is the one who built this, him and [owner] Micky [Arison]. So I am humbled to be there, but I do want to win tomorrow’s game."

Spoelstra is only the second active coach to produce at least 450 wins with their current team, joining the 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.

The Heat has held Charlotte to less than 100 points in 20 consecutive road games, which includes the playoffs. That’s the second longest streak of holding an opponent to under 100 points on the road over the last 50 years.

The longest streak: 21 games, achieved by the Spurs as the road team against the Nets, from 1995 through 2013. Miami plays at Charlotte again on Jan. 20.

"We limited some of the deep post catches," Spoelstra said, with Dwight Howard limited to eight field goal attempts (he made four).

Charlotte shot just 41 percent.

The Heat entered holding teams to 102.7 points per game (seventh best from a defensive standpoint) and 45.5 percent shooting (12th best).