This game didn't unfold as a typical trap game might -- Miami went up by 19 in the second quarter and then played lazy defense in the second half -- but the Charlotte Bobcats cut the Heat lead to two midway through the fourth quarter. Chris Bosh was forced to the bench with his fifth foul. Additionally, a Charlotte crowd initially awed with LeBron James' four first-quarter dunks was solidly behind the Bobcats.
Fortunately, the Heat didn't blow the game. Afforded too much space, James nailed a 3 to put Miami up five. Kemba Walker made a 3 of his own about a minute later, but Dwyane Wade made two straight jumpers to put the Heat up seven. Charlotte came up empty on the other end, and James found Shane Battier wide open from the corner as the Bobcats defense scrambled. Battier nailed the shot to put the Heat up 10 with four minutes left, and the Heat won 105-92. Miami has now won six straight games to improve to 20-6 on the season.
Wade scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the final frame. He had four three-point plays and worked exceptionally well out of the low post. The two-time NBA champion also made several jumpers, finishing with 10-of-19 shooting from the field. Wade also registered nine rebounds and five assists.
James wasn't bad himself, either. The three-time MVP had 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 shooting from the foul line, 12 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocks. He played as a man among boys to start the game, scoring at will and easily picking up steals. After a quiet third quarter, James made two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter when the defender gave him too much space.
Like the Heat/Thunder game, this meeting featured some bad blood. When James rose for a dunk during a second-quarter transition play, Gerald Henderson grabbed James' legs and knocked him to the ground. Udonis Haslem jawed with Henderson, and both players were called for technicals. Then in the fourth quarter, Ramon Sessions fouled Wade as he brought the ball up-court. Wade subsequently moved his foot forward in a kick-like fashion and hit Sessions in the groin. Players from both sides again had words, and the crowd began to boo Wade. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP's clutch baskets kept those boos relatively fleeting, though.
Coming off a 20-point game against the Thunder, Mario Chalmers scored 17 tonight. Chalmers made four 3-pointers, including two during a dreary third quarter that momentarily stemmed some Charlotte momentum. His contribution was all the more important because Ray Allen sat out the game with a sore shoulder. He and Battier made seven 3-pointers in the game.
Bosh finished with 14 points on a solid 6-of-12 shooting from the field, but played just 30 minutes. Bosh was active and aggressive in the first half, but the Heat went away from him for some reason later in the game. His late fouls were emblematic of the Heat's second-half problems, lazily fouling instead of playing disciplined defense. Charlotte made 12 trips to the foul line in the third quarter, stopping the clock and allowing the Bobcats to trim the deficit.
Allen's absence led Erik Spoelstra to insert James Jones into the rotation. Jones played 18 minutes and finished with five points and four rebounds.
The Heat will head over to Detroit to visit the Pistons Friday night at 7:30.