SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Tyler Johnson had a modest cheering section on the road Wednesday night and gave relatives and Fresno State fans plenty to cheer about as he helped rally the Miami Heat.
Johnson scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, including his team’s final five, to help the struggling Heat beat the Sacramento Kings 107-102 to snap a six-game losing streak.
The Heat squandered a 19-point third-quarter lead and trailed on several occasions in the fourth before Johnson put them ahead 105-102 on a three-point play with 27.8 seconds left.
“It’s not a coincidence that his most memorable plays come down the stretch,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said of the third-year guard. “He’s a fearless player, a real competitor.”
Johnson, a former Fresno State player, blocked Matt Barnes’ shot from close range with just under a minute left. He then came down court and made a floating jumper and was fouled. He hit the free throw to complete the three-point play.
“I was trying to make the shot (by Barnes) difficult, I wasn’t really trying to block it,” Johnson said.
The victory was Miami’s sixth straight over Sacramento and 16th in 17 meetings.
Goran Dragic had 19 points and seven assists for the Heat. James Johnson had 14 points and Wayne Ellington had 13. Miami had dropped nine of its previous 10 games.
Reserves Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple and Ty Lawson each had 15 points for the Kings. Anthony Tolliver had 14 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 13 and Matt Barnes added 10.
“Miami has always been a team and franchise that takes pride in playing great from top to bottom no matter if they have superstar talent or low-level players,” Afflalo said. “We expected that coming in, and they did what they had to do.”
Trailing by 19 points in the third quarter and looking lethargic, the Kings closed the period with 13 straight points to pull within 87-81 entering the fourth.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Plagued by injuries for much of the season, it’s been a challenge for Spoelstra to find a regular rotation. The challenge Tuesday against Phoenix was overcoming a lack of bench players. The Heat dressed only eight players and lost to the Suns for the first time since Nov. 3, 2009.
Hassan Whiteside (bruised right eye) was one of four injured players who were back in Miami. But the Heat did have 11 players, and 10 of them played.
“I got confused, I wasn’t used to having that many players on the bench,” Spoelstra joked. “I had to actually coach tonight.”
Cousins, who entered averaging 29 points and 10.1 rebounds, was ineffective all game. He missed 11 of 15 shots and had 13 points and six rebounds.
“Basically half our team was on him,” Spoelstra said. “We limited his catches in his sweet spots.”
Heat: Prior to the game, the Heat announced that Justise Winslow will have surgery to repair of torn labrum in his right shoulder. The team expects he will miss the remainder of the season. … The Heat shot 63 percent and led 64-59 at the half. They finished at 48.6 percent.
Kings: Rudy Gay, the team’s second leading scorer, sat out for the 10th time in 11 games with a strained right hip flexor. … Afflalo made all five shots, including three 3-pointers, and had 15 points in 13 first-half minutes. … The Kings had nine rebounds at the half and didn’t get another one until the 8:46 mark of the third quarter.
Heat: Continue a six-game trip against the Lakers on Friday night.
Kings: Host the slumping, injury-plagued Clippers on Friday night.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.