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Heat 101, Bobcats 97

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Forward LeBron James scored 32 points to lead the Miami Heat to a hard-fought 101-97 playoff victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat lead the best-of-seven first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 2-0. Game 3 will be played Saturday at Charlotte.

There were seven lead changes early in the first quarter, but Miami took control toward the end of the quarter and was comfortably ahead until Charlotte cut its deficit to 91-87 with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter.

That is when Heat forward Chris Bosh stepped up and made a 20-foot jumper and a layup -- James had assists on both plays -- to give Miami a 96-87 lead with 3:35 left.

But Charlotte battled back on a 3-pointer by guard Kemba Walker and a runner by forward Al Jefferson to cut Miami's lead to 97-94 with 1:42 left. After a Bosh miss, Charlotte had a chance to tie, but guard Chris Douglas-Roberts missed a 3-pointer.

James made one free throw with 50 seconds left after taking a hard foul by forward Josh McRoberts. Walker then made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to cut Miami's lead to 98-97.

Miami finally put Charlotte away on two free throws by James with 10 seconds left and guard Dwyane Wade's steal against Douglas-Roberts on the Bobcats' final possession.

James made 11 of 18 shots from the floor, grabbed six rebounds and had eight assists. The Heat also got 20 points from Bosh, 15 points from Wade and 11 from point guard Mario Chalmers. Charlotte was led by forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jefferson, hobbled by a foot injury, contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Miami led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, but Bobcats guard Luke Ridnour banked in a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key at the buzzer to cut their deficit to 29-19 at the end of the quarter.

James scored 12 points in the first quarter and six in the second as the Heat took a 57-47 lead at halftime.

Bosh, who was scoreless and had just one rebound in the first quarter -- largely due to getting hit with two quick fouls and playing just five minutes -- was much better in the second quarter. He was 2 of 2 on 3-pointers and had 10 points.

Chalmers added 11 points in the first half and Wade had seven.

Kidd-Gilchrist led Charlotte at the half with 15 points. Jefferson was held to six points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.

NOTES: Heat PG Mario Chalmers started despite a deep bruise on his left shin. ... Bobcats F Al Jefferson started despite a left-foot injury that required two cortisone shots before the game. He left the game briefly during the first quarter, went to the locker room, got his foot re-taped and returned. ... Heat F Chris Bosh's 6.6-rebound average during the regular season was a career low. His scoring average of 16.2 was the lowest since his rookie season of 2003-2004. ... Bobcats coach Steve Clifford on his boss, team president Michael Jordan: "He will text me with what he sees. He knows our team well and can indentify our players' strengths individually. He knows what we're trying to do, and he's a great resource for me. I appreciate how he treats me -- he gives suggestions but lets me know I'm the coach."
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