In yet another installment of masterpiece theater, the Miami Heat, namely LeBron James, gave their devoted fans, and bitter haters, another show as a part of what is now a 26-game-winning streak.
Playing without Dwyane Wade (knee), it was James leading the way in an easy 109-77 victory that was blown open with a furious run that lasted from the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter.
After Charlotte cut the Heat’s lead to five with 8:19 remaining in the third quarter, LeBron began to pay attention. From that point on, James would record seven points and three assists to end the third quarter. By the end of the third, Miami’s lead ballooned to 16.
The Heat scored on their first five possessions of the fourth quarter in a 12-2 run that put the game well out of reach.
LeBron needed only 34 minutes to stuff the stat sheet, recording a majority of his 32 points, ten assists, eight rebounds, three steals, and three blocks in the second half. He also shot 11-of-14, which makes him 24-of-28 in his last two contests against Charlotte.
James shot a career-best 13-of-14 from the floor in the Heat’s 99-94 win earlier in the year.
Without Wade, it was up to the role players to fill in for their starting shooting guard who averages 22 points per. Mike Miller was given a start in Wade’s place, getting the green light from the start and converting two of his six three-point attempts.
Miller scored his first points since January 25th. He was 0-of-8 from the field in the nine contests he was featured in before tonight.
Chris Bosh provided 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks in 31 minutes.
The bench proved to be essential in the Heat’s largest victory of the season. Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Norris Cole combined to shoot 9-of-14 from beyond the arc. Allen and Cole combined for 29 points off the bench.
Cole tied a season-high with six assists, while committing zero turnovers. He has also become everyone’s favorite alley-oop passer. After connecting with Dwyane Wade on a 60-foot alley in Toronto last week, Cole threw up one equally as impressive and far to LeBron against Charlotte:
Chris Andersen had six points, five rebounds and two blocks. He’s continued to be a tremendous surprise for the Heat, who signed the “Birdman” only a few months prior. As fresh as he appears, it’s bewildering as to why he hadn’t been signed until February.
Naturally, he contributed to the play of the game with a roof-shattering block on Kemba Walker that led to a LeBron fastbreak dunk.
It took about three seconds for that Andersen block to turn into a James dunk. Miami Heat basketball at its best.
Even Rashard Lewis got in on the act with seven points and four rebounds. But no player had a greater contribution than 40-year-old Juwan Howard, who was activated for the first time since re-joining the Heat earlier this month.
Howard scored the final points of the game on a layup, while also dishing out two assists and grabbing one rebound.
Juwan had one less rebounder than the Bobcats’ leader in assists, which was Walker who ended up with three. Walker led Charlotte with 20 points, but needed 21 shots to do so.
The Bobcats had nine assists. LeBron had more assists than the entire Charlotte team, which also coughed up the ball 13 times. Meanwhile, the Heat had only ten turnovers to 28 assists.
Gerald Henderson dropped 18 points, needing 18 shots. Ben Gordon and Jeff Adrien combined to miss all ten of their shots off the bench.
The game’s beginning resembled the Heat’s play in the past week’s worth of games.
Staring at an early double-digit deficit for the fourth consecutive game, the Heat managed to turn a 19-8 deficit into a 23-19 first quarter lead. It had the makings of any of the Heat’s past four games, or seemingly any game against an inferior opponent this year.
The Bobcats, playing without Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood, jumped out to the lead using a 13-3 run. They lost the lead on a Bosh jumper that came during a 15-0 run to end the first quarter.
Charlotte hung around, keeping Miami’s halftime lead to eight, but were blown away once LeBron began to make his presence felt.
The Heat receive no rest as they start off a four-game road trip that begins in Orlando Monday night. While the Magic have given the Heat trouble in their first two meetings, there is the potential for an absence from Nikola Vucevic, who is recovering from a concussion.
Vucevic had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the first two meetings. The Magic are already missing Arron Afflalo.
Here’s an interview between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, also featuring a guest appearance from Chris Bosh, to raise your spirits for the night: