Heat Check: LeBron James steps up when needed

The game figured to be a struggle.

Ray Allen (ill) and Udonis Haslem (back spasms) remained out and were joined by point guard Mario Chalmers, who was suspended by the league for his flagrant foul the night before.

That absences meant Dwyane Wade, who might otherwise have rested on the second night of a back to back, started at Charlotte on Saturday night.

But just as he did in Friday’s home win against Dallas, Lebron James led the way. He had 30 points, four rebounds and seven assists to help lift the Heat to 97-81 victory against the Bobcats, who lost to the Heat for a 13th straight time.

The absence of Chalmers, Allen and Haslem, combined with the ineffectiveness of both Wade and Chris Bosh, demanded shorthanded Miami get help off its bench.

The reserves did not disappoint. Michael Beasley (15 points), Rashard Lewis (9 points, nine rebounds) and Chris Andersen (10 points, seven rebounds) all contributed.

Wade (4 points, 1-of-7 shooting) looked out of sorts, and Chris Bosh (7 points in 15:34) was hampered greatly by foul trouble.

Miami (7-3) won despite failing to score at least 100 points for the first time this season.

Erik Spoelstra used his fifth different starting lineup in 10 games. Norris Cole made his first start in Chalmers’ place.

But thanks to LeBron and the bench, it was a struggle avoided for the Heat.

The turning point

Miami led 54-53 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Heat then finished the period with a 14-7 run — in which five different Miami players scored — to take control. Charlotte never really threatened in the fourth.

The difference maker

James again led the way, but Cole stepped in and performed well starting for Chalmers. The point guard had 8 points, seven rebounds, five assets in just less than 36 minutes.

Stat of the game

Miami’s defense helped hold Charlotte to a season-low 35-percent (29 of 83) shooting.

What’s next

The Heat return home to play the Atlanta Hawks at AmericanAirlines Arena 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas