Johnson, Ellington combine for 32 in Miami Heat win over Hornets

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 15: Dion Waiters /

The Miami Heat bench went to work on Friday night, in a win over the Charlotte Hornets.

After falling to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat headed into Friday’s matchup with the Charlotte Hornets with a chance to redeem itself.

Having dropped to a game below .500, the Heat were in desperate need of boost, and they got that by way of their bench in front of a hostile crowd at the Spectrum Center. Wayne Ellington scored 16 points off the bench, Tyler Johnson added 16 of his own and Dion Waiters logged 12 points and six assists, as the Heat held on to beat the Hornets, 104-98. With seven players scoring in double figures.

On top of that, with the win, head coach Erik Spoelstra has tied president Pat Riley’s franchise-record of 494 total victories.

Miami was once again without Hassan Whiteside and forward Justise Winslow, whom are still rehabbing injuries, but were able to hold Charlotte to just 41 percent shooting, despite being outrebounded 42-40.

"“You have to be prepared to play a full 48 minutes,” Spoelstra said. “I like our guys having to go through all that stress and anxiety and have to execute under duress.”"

Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 25 points and Dwight Howard recorded 15 points and 16 rebounds, as Charlotte has now lost four of its last five games. Johnson, who missed Wednesday’s game with a migraine, finished 4-for-4 from three-point range.

"“He’s letting the game come to him,” Spoelstra said. “But he’s in a great flow right now. Love to keep him there, but, regardless, he still finds a way to impact the game.”"

The Hornets controlled the tempo for much of the first quarter, as Miami didn’t gain its first lead until Goran Dragic’s layup with 6:16 remaining, gave them an 11-9 advantage. Waiters tallied eight of his 12 points during that span, as the Heat held a 24-19 edge heading into the second.

Miami picked right up where it left off, with Ellington’s three 3-pointers during the period pushing the lead to as many as 12 points. Despite that, Charlotte made a run to end the half and headed into the locker room down just six at the intermission.

The third period would remain close, with both teams exchanging blows throughout. At the 6:25 point, the Hornets pulled within two at 61-59 and appeared to have all the momentum.

The Heat would follow that with a 12-3 spurt of their own, pushing the lead to as much as 12 before heading into the final period up 79-71. An early fourth quarter burst then led to a 94-77 lead with 7:30 to play.

Despite being outscored 27-25 during the final 12 minutes, Miami was able to suppress Charlotte’s late surge just enough, with Waiters’ fadeaway with 1:09 effectively sealing the deal, as Dragic would close the deal from the free throw line.

"“We knew they were going to go on a run, they were going to give us a shot at the end of the game. Happily, we withstood that,” Ellington said."

The Heat (14-14) have now won three of their last four, and will play host to the Los Angeles Clippers and make a stop in Atlanta, before facing off against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics on December 20.

Next: Miami Heat: Big man Hassan Whiteside's best moments of 2016-17

Until then, Miami faces its greatest challenge: improving in practice each and every day.