Heat Check: Miami dispatches Charlotte in familiar fashion in Game 1

MIAMI — For a playoff opener, it certainly had the feel of a Miami Heat-Charlotte Bobcats regular-season game.

LeBron James scored 27 points and Dwyane Wade added 23 to lead the Heat past Charlotte 99-88 on Sunday in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs first-round series. It was Miami’s 17th consecutive victory against the Bobcats counting the regular season.

In a surprise, James Jones played 14:11 and contributed 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting. James had played just 20 games during the season.

Wade also had five assists and, more importantly for Miami, looked very healthy in 34 minutes.

Miami also was aided by Charlotte center Al Jefferson (18 points, 10 rebounds) apparently suffering a strained plantar fascia in the first quarter. He played 35:18 but was not the same after the injury.

The Heat, who had trouble protecting the basketball down the stretch of the regular season, committed just nine turnovers.

Heat vs. Bobcats

Miami hit 11 of 23 from behind the arc and 18 of 26 free throws. Charlotte took just 12 free throws, hitting eight.

Chris Andersen had 10 rebounds and eight points in 21:38 off the bench.

Leading 62-61 with 2:30 left in the third quarter, the Heat closed the period with a 10-4 run. James and Jones each have five points — each with a 3-pointer and basket — during the spurt.

Miami built a 10-point lead with 9:02 remaining in the fourth quarter and never looked back.

THE TURNING POINT

Miami took control in the the final minutes of the third quarter, then built on its cushion to go ahead by as many as 20.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

LeBron James, who had nine rebounds besides his 8-of-16 shooting from the floor.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Heat shot 46.1 percent (11 of 23) from 3-point range.

WHAT’S NEXT

Game 2 will be 7 p.m. Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

You can follow Charlie McCarthy on Twitter @mccarthy_chas or email him at mac1763@bellsouth.net.