Basketball: Miami Heat close out Charlotte Hornets in game seven to advance in playoffs

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) drives to the basket as Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (7) looks on in Game 7 on Sunday.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) drives to the basket as Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (7) looks on in Game 7 on Sunday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The Miami Heat rallied to eliminate the Charlotte Hornets and advance to the second round of the playoffs in the first of two decisive NBA game sevens on Sunday.

The Heat routed the Hornets 106-73 in Miami to improve to 6-3 overall in game sevens after trailing at one point in the series three games to two.

Point guard Goran Dragic had a game-high 25 points for the Heat who never trailed and will now face the winner of Sunday's game seven between the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers.

"I just had more room to operate. My teammates trust me even when I miss a shot and they keep supporting me," said Dragic, of Slovenia.

Luol Deng tallied 15 points, Dwyane Wade finished with 12 and Hassan Whiteside had 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.

Before Sunday, the Heat's most recent game seven was in 2013, when they beat the San Antonio Spurs to win the NBA Finals.

"This team has had opportunities all season to cave and every time when we have been in that situation we have somehow prevailed," said Wade. "I knew tonight would be a great moment for these guys.

"I knew the energy and that our crowd was going to be enough that we was going to be prepared."

Charlotte had the Heat on the ropes but failed to close out the series. Hornets guard Kemba Walker scored just nine points on three-of-16 shooting and had three turnovers Sunday. Walker scored 37 points against Miami on Friday.

The Heat outrebounded the Hornets 58-36.

Miami dominated on the offensive glass, to lead 29-18 heading into the second quarter.

Dragic scored 17 points in the first half as the Heat lead 32-17 at halftime.

Miami surged to a 20-4 start to the third quarter and headed into the final quarter with an 83-53 lead.

Heat guard Tyler Johnson, who hadn't played since January due to shoulder surgery, helped ice the Heat's win by entering the game in the fourth quarter and scoring five points.