Josh Richardson entered the season with high expectations after a standout training camp and preseason. The 24-year-old has lived up to those expectations on defense, but offense has been a challenge for him since the start of the regular season. Richardson entered Friday averaging 8.8 points on 36.8 percent shooting from the field and 26.9 percent shooting from 3-point range. But the third-year forward was the Heat’s most reliable scorer against the Hornets, as he poured in a career-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Richardson’s previous scoring high was 22. Richardson, who signed a four-year, $42 million extension with the Heat in September, will look to carry the momentum from this performance into Sunday’s home game against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors (17-6). “This is the player he looked like coming out of training camp and after the preseason,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after Miami’s win over Charlotte. “But you know what, you do have to credit J-Rich for his character, his competitiveness. Even while he’s been struggling from the field, he’s been an All-NBA defender. And you can ask anybody that we’ve played. They would agree with that.” Just look at the numbers. Among the 178 players defending eight or more shots per game this season, Richardson is ranked third as he’s limited the opponent to 38.0 percent shooting — only Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo are ahead of him on this list. Richardson knew it was only a matter of time before his offense caught up to his defense. He’s shown signs of breaking out of his shooting slump recently, too, making eight of his last 17 3-point shot attempts over the past three games.
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Palm Beach Post | Dec 3