MIAMI -- It was nearly a highly embarrassing evening for the Heat, but LeBron James scored 31 points to save Miami in a 99-94 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night.
The reigning NBA champion Heat entered with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Bobcats were tied with the Wizards for the worst record in the NBA, which is ironic because the Heat also played poorly against Washington this season, losing in December.
With 8:51 left, the surprising Bobcats led 72-69. The Heat then put together a 14-2 run that included five layups or dunks. The Bobcats answered with an 8-4 run to keep it close before the Heat pulled away.
It's tough to explain why the Heat played such uninspired basketball, but the team did arrive in the wee hours Monday morning after playing in Toronto on Sunday afternoon and then sticking around to watch the Super Bowl.
James got the team to change its flight plan. Instead of flying back immediately after the game and missing the Super Bowl, the Heat watched the big game at a bar adjoining the Air Canada Centre.
Against the Bobcats, James certainly did his part, making a career-best 13 of 14 shots from the field. The Heat's Dwyane Wade added 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Chris Bosh scored 23 points.
Ramon Sessions led six Bobcats players in double figures with 18 points. Ben Gordon had 16 points, and Byron Mullins added 12 to lead an impressive Charlotte bench.
NOTES: Byron came off the bench Monday night, playing for the first time since missing 19 games because of an ankle injury. ... After a 2-2 road trip that included losses to Boston and Indiana, this was the first of a five-game Heat homestand that includes Houston, the Clippers, the Lakers and Portland. ... The Bobcats are without forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who suffered a concussion Saturday against Houston. ... Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said reserve guard Ray Allen is a mature player who doesn't press even though he is not getting as many shooting opportunities as he has in the past. "The thing about a Hall of Famer like Ray is that he has a short memory," Spoelstra said. "He won't hesitate to shoot if he is open." ... Point guard Kemba Walker is one of the few bright spots for the Bobcats, leading the team in scoring, assists and steals. ... Charlotte's biggest surprise is Jeff Adrien, who was undrafted out of Connecticut and cut by the team in the preseason. He is the Bobcats' starter at power forward, playing ahead of Tyrus Thomas and Hakeem Warrick, whose combined salaries are $12 million per year.