The Miami Heat's game against the Charlotte Bobcats included some disappointing moments. Miami was down 17-8 early in the game and only led 59-54 midway through the third quarter. But as they've done countless times during this historic winning streak, the Heat players made a decisive run to blow the game open. Miami went on a 26-4 run after it was 59-54 to come away with a 109-77 victory and win its 26th consecutive game.
LeBron James catalyzed everything for Miami during the amazing run. Dwyane Wade missed this game with knee soreness, so the three-time MVP had to carry a little more of the load. It took James six minutes to attempt his first shot, but he was effective as soon as he began playing aggressively. He assisted on field goals from Chris Andersen, Shane Battier and Norris Cole before making a fadeaway jumper at the end of the third to put Miami up 73-57 heading into the final stanza of play.
He continued to play at the start of the fourth -- Erik Spoelstra usually rests James then -- and he found Cole and Ray Allen for 3s. Fewer than two minutes into the fourth, Miami suddenly had a 22-point lead. James then found Andersen for back-to-back dunks. But before James called it a night, the Birdman repaid the favor. Andersen blocked a Kemba Walker layup attempt with so much force that the ball travelled to Cole, who was standing near mid-court. Cole threw an outlet pass to James for a vicious dunk, and the NBA champion's night was over with 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field and 10-of-11 shooting from the line, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Cole actually had a very good game, making three shots from beyond the arc to score 15 points and dish out six assists. He needs to continue working on his jump-shot if he wants to become a solid backup point guard in the NBA. Tonight, Cole made opponents pay when they loaded up on James, but often that's not the case. Chris Bosh, who turned 29 years old Sunday, finished with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting and from the field and six rebounds in just 31 minutes of action. Ray Allen added 14 points, making four 3-pointers in 23 minutes of playing time.
Wade's injury enabled 19-year NBA veteran Juwan Howard to dress for the game, and he actually played. He didn't seem overzealous to score, finding Cole and Rashard Lewis for open 3s. But Howard scored on a layup with 16 seconds left in his first game since Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals.
The Heat will play the Orlando Magic Monday at 7.