Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Goran Dragic scored 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and the Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Hornets 105-100 to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt on Tuesday night.
The Heat moved a half game behind idle Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
"This was a playoff game," Dragic said. "Tonight was a must win for us."
Luol Deng posted 21 points and six rebounds and Dwyane Wade added 19 points and five assists for Miami, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
Gerald Henderson netted 29 points, while Bismack Biyombo supplied 12 points and 12 boards for the Hornets, who have dropped six of their last nine contests.
Charlotte is two games behind the Celtics.
Al Jefferson sat out again with right knee pain and has already been ruled out for Wednesday's game against Toronto.
"It just progressively got worse. Now he's trying to rest it and see if he can go maybe this weekend," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said.
Henderson's driving dunk staked the Hornets to a 65-59 advantage at the 8:03 mark of the third quarter before Miami ripped off 16 straight points to seize control of the contest.
Udonis Haslem and Wade poured in six points apiece during the surge, with a Haslem layup capping it for a 75-65 cushion with 3:11 to go in the period.
Biyombo's putback dunk cut the Charlotte gap to 82-75 after three.
Henderson sank a pair of foul shots to finish off a 9-2 Hornets spurt to get them within 92-89 with 4:48 left. Dragic, however, recorded a three-point play and hit a pull-up jumper minutes later to extend the lead back to 99-91 with 1:37 on the clock.
A Henderson 3 with 15 ticks remaining trimmed the deficit to 103-100, but Dragic sealed the outcome with a pair of free throws at the other end.
Earlier, Miami led 28-25 following a quarter of play, but the Hornets outscored them 30-27 in the second and the game was tied 55-55 at the break.
Miami has beaten Charlotte 11 straight times in South Beach ... The Heat shot 49.4 percent (40-of-81) from the floor, but made just 3-of-15 from beyond the arc ... Hassan Whiteside had 12 points and eight rebounds for Miami ... Marvin Williams pulled down 13 boards for Charlotte.