Heat pull out OT win vs. Bobcats

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Miami Heat fell well short of playing a complete game Saturday night, but it didn't matter.

The Heat buckled down in the second half and then dominated overtime to pull out a 104-96 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Miami trailed by as many as nine points in the second half after allowing Charlotte to shoot 60.5 percent from the field in the first half en route to a 60-53 halftime lead. But they limited the Bobcats to just 36 points in the second half and overtime, and just 13 of 37 shooting.

Coach Erik Spoelstra credited the defensive turnaround for the victory, on a night when the Heat were without guard Dwyane Wade.

"I liked the grit that we showed in the second half," Spoelstra said. "Our guys were not happy at halftime and wanted to take a lot more pride in our defense and not just be talk, but to walk the talk. They did a good job of moving the gall and attacking us in the first half and really getting great looks, so the second half it was just more concentration, not only the effort but doing things disciplined to our system."

Forward LeBron James led the Heat with 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists, although he went through one stretch where he missed nine straight shots from the field before taking over again down the stretch.

James had a shot to win the game at the end of regulation but missed a 20-footer at the buzzer. Then he had four points in overtime, as the Heat scored the first four points of the extra session and went on to outscore the Bobcats 14-6.

James laughed about the performance.

"We had some stretches where the offense wasn't there, but the defense was there all night," James said. "Well, half the night."

The win was the Heat's second in two nights after three straight losses earlier in this six-game road trip, which will conclude at Atlanta on Monday.

Miami (29-11) also got 25 points and seven rebounds from center Chris Bosh. Guard Ray Allen started in place of guard Dwayne Wade, who sat out resting his chronic knees after playing at Philadelphia on Friday, and finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. And backup center Udonis Haslem was the defensive star down the stretch, holding Charlotte center Al Jefferson to just nine points after halftime.

Jefferson finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds. The Bobcats also got 16 points from guard Ramon Sessions, 11 each from guard Gerald Henderson and forward Anthony Tolliver, and forward Josh McRoberts scored 10.

The Bobcats lost guard Kemba Walker, their leading scorer coming into the game at 19.0, when he suffered a severely sprained ankle midway through the third quarter. He accidently stepped on Bosh's foot while driving to the basket on a fast break, and had to be carried off the floor. He finished with six points.

James credited Haslem for the Heat's defensive resurgence in the second half, as he often fronted Jefferson to keep the Bobcats from getting Jefferson the ball.

"One thing about him, when he gets an opportunity he's going to rebound, we know that, and he's going to defend at a high level," James said. "He was a technician on post defense tonight on Big Al. Big Al's a tough cover and UD did a great job of just trying to keep a body in front of him and make him take tough shots and then clean the glass."

The Bobcats (17-25) have now lost 10 of their last 13.

"We played hard," Jefferson said. "It's just, you can't make any mistakes against a team like Miami. They picked their defense up in the second half and overtime and did a helluva job on me. When Kemba went down we didn't have anybody that could make them play honest on the outside and that hurt us.

"But at the end of the day, even though we lost the game, I feel pretty good. I feel bad about Kemba, but overall I think we're heading in the right direction."

NOTES: This was the third meeting between the teams this season. The Heat won 97-87 in Charlotte on Nov. 16 and 99-98 in Miami on Dec. 1. ... The Heat have now won 23 of their last 24 games against Southeast Division rivals. ... The Bobcats began selling Charlotte Hornets merchandise in their team store on Saturday, much to the delight of a sellout crowd of 19,631. ... The Bobcats have lost F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles) for the rest of the season and have been without C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture, left foot) all season. ... Besides resting G Dwyane Wade, the Heat were also missing C Chris Andersen (knee). ... Heat C Greg Oden played 4:52, with one point and three fouls. ... Heat G Toney Douglas, acquired from Golden State on Wednesday, will not join the team until it returns to Miami. ... The Bobcats will remain home to face Toronto on Monday afternoon. ... The Heat will close out this 12-day road trip at Atlanta on Monday.
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