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Heat Push Bobcats To The Brink; LBJ Stares Down Jordan

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This game was no contest for the Heat. LeBron challenged history, and his supporting cast came through big.

Grant Halverson

First Quarter Play-by-Play

The fans were booing Miami, and more specifically LeBron James right from the opening tipoff. After missing their first two shots, the Heat allowed the Bobcats to score first when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hit one-of-two foul shots and add the first field goal of the matchup. It was 3-0 Charlotte early when Al Jefferson blocked a short jumper from Udonis Haslem. LeBron James hit a cutting Mario Chalmers for Miami's first points of the game. The Heat had missed their first five field goal attempts.

After a Bobcats bucket, UD tipped in a rebound to keep the Heat close. Charlotte got a dunk, then Dwyane Wade missed a 15-footer from the baseline. The Bobcats took a 9-4 lead when Gerald Henderson hit a jumper from the top of the key. Chris Bosh cut the lead from five to two with a calm three pointer from the left wing. The Bobcats scored again, then goaltended a LBJ layup (and got away with it) followed by a Kemba Walker runner. Walker was fouled on the play, making the free throw to complete the three point play.

UD hit a 17-footer from the right baseline, then Walker kept the Bobcats one touchdown ahead with a jumper. Wade missed a layup, Charlotte missed another, and James ran over Josh McRoberts, earning a little harm with his hoop.

LeBron made a layup to keep Miami four points down, then a three-pointer to cut it to one. A few scoreless possessions later, Gary Neal fouled Chris Andersen, who made both free throws for Miami's first lead of the contest. He made two more foul shots for the next points of the game before Charlotte went on a seven point run to take the lead back. LeBron hit an already-in-the-air Birdman for a dunk to put an end to the run. After a Jefferson layup, Miami held the ball for the final shot, which turned out to be a missed Rashard Lewis layup.

First Quarter Observations

  • When this game started, Miami was the only undefeated team left in the postseason, and had an NBA best 96.6% chance to win their opening round series with the Hornets.
  • LeBron has been nothing but respectful to the city of Charlotte and the Bobcats, so I have to wonder what good it will do the fans of the club to boo LeBron. It's not hurting his feelings, and it certainly isn't making the Bobcats any better. Just food for thought.
  • Calling him "The King" is not presumptuous, it's his nickname. It's also his title (or should be).
  • Al Jefferson really controlled the game in the first quarter, leading both teams with 15 points and four defensive rebounds. He was seven-of-nine in the early going.
  • After the game started, the Mavericks beat the Spurs at the buzzer to go up two-games-to-one. Didn't see that one coming.

Second Quarter Play-by-Play

Ray Allen started off the second quarter scoring by hitting his first triple of the series. He faked a three the next time down, sinking a cutting, driving layup as he fell to the ground for a Miami 28-27 lead. Chris Douglas-Roberts hit a three-pointer of his own to keep the Bobcats in the drivers seat, followed by a Luke Ridnour trey. The Birdman was called for a flagrant foul on McRoberts as the game went into a commercial break.

McBobby made both foul shots to put Charlotte into a seven-point drivers' seat. Bosh hit another three-pointer, then Neal was called for a travel, and the Bobcats third turnover of the game. Wade finally got onto the scoreboard with a turnaround, fadeaway jumper to cut the lead down to two. McRoberts made another jumper, followed by a Bosh floater which left the game at 37-35, Charlotte.

Wade tied the game with a layup, and after three points by Charlotte, scored another two. After a fake three point attempt from Bosh, Chalmers sunk one to put Miami on top by two. The Cats made a pair of free throws, and Norris Cole made a nice layup followed by his first triple and a five-point Miami lead.

LeBron was called for traveling - his second turnover of the quarter, then James Jones had a blocked shot and a missed three-point attempt. UD fouled MKG, who missed both free throws. LeBron found the Birdman under the basket, and then hit two free throw attempts after getting fouled by MKG for a nine point Miami lead. Gerald Henderson was fouled on his way to the hoop with a minute and a half left in the first half, but missed both shots. He made two shots a bit later, followed by a James turnaround jumper with an expiring shot clock which kept the Miami lead at nine. Walker scored the Bobcats' first field goal in almost six minutes with 15 seconds left in the quarter. James sank two free throws to seemingly close the half, then stole the ball soon after the inbounds pass, and got fouled by Henderson going for a last second three. He made all three and the half closed with Miami on top by a dozen, 58-46.

Second Quarter Observations

  • Chris Bosh has made eight-of-11 shots during this series from three-point distance.
  • After missing his first four shots, Wade made three-of-four during the second quarter. He also had five helpers in the first half.
  • Al Jefferson must have been getting tired. He only scored two points in the quarter.
  • James only had seven points in the first quarter, and although he totaled one field goal attempt in the second, he scored a game high nine points in the frame (thanks to a seven-of-eight showing from the charity stripe).

Third Quarter Play-by-Play

Neither team was able to score to start out the quarter, with both teams missing several shots before Chalmers hit one while falling out of bounds near the 10 minute mark for a 14-point lead. Bosh rejected a Jefferson jumper from eight-feet, then LBJ sunk a 16-foot, turnaround fadeaway right in front of Michael Jordan, who looked constipated when the camera focused on him. Kemba Walker made one-of-two free throws for Charlotte's first point of the quarter with just over three minutes gone in the third.

LBJ missed a bank shot from 15-feet, but Wade dunked the rebound and Miami's lead grew out to 17 points at 64-47. Kemba Walker made two free throws, then the King made two straight buckets (a layup, a steal, then a slam dunk). Walker made a three pointer for the Bobcats, then James took a pass from Wade under the basket for an easy layin and a 20 point lead. Wade was fouled by Neal the next time down, and made both shots. He sunk a dunk for the next points of the game, then watched the Cats miss a shot and James Jones sink a three pointer for a 26 point Miami lead.

McRoberts hit a three-pointer for Charlotte's eighth, ninth, and 10th points of the quarter with three and a half minutes left until the fourth quarter. James Jones fouled him a moment later, and he made both foul shots to close to within 21 points. The Birdman hit a cutting James for an alleyoop layup, followed by another McBob three-pointer. NoCo answered with a three of his own.

CDR and his unfortunate haircut banked a three with just over a minute left in the quarter. After a miss for each team, James hit a 20-footer from the top of the key and the Bobcats held the ball for the last shot. Jefferson made a layup, then James Jones missed a long distance prayer at the buzzer. Miami led 86-66 with 12 minutes left in the game.

Third Quarter Observations

  • Juwan Howard sighting! I know he's part of the coaching staff, but I'm always happy to see him back there.
  • On the replay from James' steal and slam, it was clear that James was staring down Jordan while going up for the dunk. It was a classic moment and it seemed as if James is trying to challenge history itself. He's only 1/3rd of the way to Jordan's six rings, but he can only earn them one at a time.

  • It's plain to see that Josh McRoberts is outclassed by James and knows it. The only defense he has is to plow into the King and hope not to get called for another flagrant foul.
  • Kemba Walker is "Chris Paul fast," too fast at times to get out of his own way. Norris Cole sometimes suffers from this affliction as well.
  • The fourth quarter seems like it will eventually be an afterthought. My thinking is that the Cats will suddenly wake up but still lose by between nine and 12 points.

Fourth Quarter Play-by-Play

Allen hit a corner three to open the final quarter, then CDR missed the answering shot. Neal sunk a three pointer the next chance down for the Bobcats. Cole drilled a waiting Birdman for an audible dunk and another 23 point Miami lead. With 10 minutes left, Neal was called for an offensive foul, then Jones missed a three pointer after a behind the back pass from LeBron. CDR made a layup, and the Heat missed another shot.

The Cats made two free throws, then Wade missed a layup. Birdman put back a Bosh miss, then after several misses for each team CDR made a three pointer to pull the Bobcats within 18 points with six and a half minutes left in regulation. Neal and Wade traded layups, then Neal sunk two free throws to keep the Bobcats 16 points down.

Charlotte forced Miami into a 24-second violation, followed by a loose ball foul on Cole. Bismack Biyombo made one-of-two foul shots as LeBron James reentered the game. Neal made two foul shots to close the gap to 14. Even though the Big Three were back in the game, it was clearly garbage time.

McRoberts, Wade, and Neal each made one of two foul shots, and with 120 seconds left it was Miami by a score of 98-83. After Charlotte made another basket, the Heat just kind of ran the clock out.

Fourth Quarter Observations

  • Can LeBron possibly get better? The question occurs to me after ESPN showed that graphic illustrating James' field goal percentage getting better every season. How much could he possibly improve from 57%?
  • James is 38 points shy of 4000 in his playoff career. Jordan is first with just under 6,000, and James is eighth. With four more good playoff tournaments James could be looking at the record.
  • The Bobcats aren't champion grade yet, but it's easy to forget that they were 7-59 just two seasons ago. They've really come a long way.
Thanks for reading the recap. For more Heat, stay tuned here at Hot Hot Hoops. For the Charlotte take on festivities, go to Rufus on Fire.