7:00 PM ET, April 23, 2014
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
It was fitting. Miami took Charlotte's best shot, and survived.
James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Heat wasted two big leads before hanging on to beat the Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
"We can play better basketball," James said. "We haven't played our best basketball."
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to seal the win for Miami. He stripped the ball from Chris Douglas-Roberts with the Heat protecting a three-point lead with about 3 seconds left, and the Bobcats never got another shot off.
"A very instinctual, high-risk play," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "The ball's there and you know you have an opportunity to get it when most people can't get that, and that saved the game."
The Heat improved to 17-0 against the Bobcats since James and Bosh joined Wade in Miami, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Game 3 is Saturday in Charlotte. The Heat were the NBA's only higher-seed to open the playoffs with two home wins.
Jefferson said he felt the tear worsen early on in the game, said it was "a lot of pain" but again insisted he would keep playing.
"He's not anywhere close to 100 percent," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "But we can play through him. ... You've got to respect the fact he's out there battling. He has no mobility, basically. Limited mobility and yet he had 18 and 13, and he fought hard."
So was McRoberts -- maybe too hard for Miami's liking.
LeBron James made himself at home in the lane during Game 2, scoring 12 points on drives to the basket:
|Game 1||Game 2|
|>> 2-4 FT in both games|
Miami's lead was 97-94 with 50 seconds left when James drove and was met at the rim by McRoberts, whose right elbow struck the four-time NBA MVP around his chin. James immediately began grabbing at his throat and needed much longer than he usually does to get up after a hard foul, which was not called flagrant.
"I don't need to see it again," James said. "Most important thing is we won the game."
Said McRoberts, who insisted it wasn't intentional: "It looked a lot worse than what it was."
James hit the second of his two free throws, making it a two-possession game -- and that was critical. Kemba Walker made a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left to get Charlotte within one, but the Bobcats didn't score again.
"I think we're still really confident," Walker said. "We just have to learn from our mistakes. ... I think we have a chance, man."
So while the Heat were saying that all they have done was hold serve at home, it's hard to find a real silver lining for Charlotte. Not only have the Bobcats now lost 18 consecutive games against Miami, but the Heat have never dropped any of the previous 11 postseason series in which they've grabbed a 2-0 series lead.
James, between his time in Cleveland and Miami, is 11-0 in such situations. Wade has been part of nine previous 2-0 leads with the Heat, and six of those series ended in no more than five games.
"They're going to keep coming at us," Wade said. "And that's good."
Miami's lead was 91-77 midway through the fourth, and after blowing a big first-half lead, it appeared as though the Heat finally had some breathing room. A few minutes later, it looked a whole lot different.
Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist and Douglas-Roberts combined on a 10-0 run, getting the Bobcats within 91-87. But Bosh scored on consecutive possessions, pushing the Heat lead to eight with 3:36 remaining.
"We got out of our here with the win, but we're going to have to tighten up a little bit," Bosh said. "We had a little bit of slippage today."
Miami led 57-47 at the half, and the Bobcats -- who missed 17 of their first 22 shots -- were fortunate, after facing a 16-point deficit at one point in the early going.
And while Charlotte kept coming back, it never led in the final 41 minutes.
Jefferson has not shot a free throw in the series. ... James has signed with William Morris, which will represent him in entertainment-related projects. ... Game 3 will be Charlotte's first playoff home game since April 26, 2010, against Orlando. No current Bobcats appeared in that game -- but Heat F Rashard Lewis did, for Orlando.
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 23: Al Jefferson #25 of the Charlotte Bobcats enters the arena prior to the game against the...(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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MVP: Al Jefferson came out hobbling and then felt his plantar fascia tear more, yet he still played 40 minutes and put up 18 points and 13 rebounds. His gutsiness very nearly lifted Charlotte to an upset.
X factor: Chris Bosh shot 4-for-5 from the arc, and each 3-pointer seemed to come just as the Bobcats were building up some momentum. Further proof he doesn't have to light it up all the time from distance, just consistently.
That was ... closer than it should have been: In spite of back-to-back championships, the Heat are still dogged by the sense that they play down to their opponent. Facing a beat-up Bobcats team and escaping with a victory that was in doubt to the last second could be the new Example 1A of that.
Analysis: The Heat improved to 21-3 when they have an an effective field goal percentage of at least 59%.[+]
Chris Bosh scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting on jump shots Wednesday, including four 3-pointers, which tied his career high. Bosh scored eight more points on jumpers than in Game 1.[+]
Chris Bosh on Jump Shots, 2014 Playoffs
ESPN Stats & Information