Heat Check: Miami holds off pesky Charlotte to take 2-0 series lead

MIAMI — Although the Miami Heat led by double digits for much of Game 2 of the NBA playoffs first-round series, they struggled to pull away from the persistent Charlotte Bobcats.

It almost proved to be costly in a 101-97 nail-biting victory Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

When Charlotte pulled within four in the fourth quarter, the Heat scored 10 straight points. The Bobcats rallied again before Chris Bosh knocked down consecutive buckets to extend the lead to eight.

Charlotte trailed by just three with 1:42 left — the closest it had been since it was 38-35. LeBron James made one of two free throws after a hard foul, but Kemba Walker countered with a 3-pointer.

James answered with a pair of foul shots with 10.3 seconds remaining to give the Heat a three-point lead. A key Heat defensive stand secured the win and 2-0 series advantage.

Bosh added 20 points, while Wade scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth. Mario Chalmers, who was a game-time decision with a shin injury, added 11 (nine in the first).

"In the rhythm of the game, just open," Bosh said. "I just wanted to be aggressive and take my shots and make sure I pick my spots correctly."

Four Bobcats finished with double-digit points, led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s 22.

Al Jefferson, who strained the plantar fascia in his left foot Sunday and had been in a walking boot, recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

"A lot of pain," said Jefferson, who went back into the locker room to check on his injury early in the game. "I just missed a lot of shots I should have made. We still had a chance at the end."

Miami led by as many as 16 points toward the end of the first half thanks to hot shooting, going 11 of 21 overall and connecting on four of their first eight 3-pointers. The Bobcats opened 6 for 23.

The Heat ended up 35 of 67 from the field at 52.2 percent. They were outscored in both the third and fourth quarters.

"They hung around," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They didn’t make it easy for us when we got up 13-15 to break it open to 20. They kept on competing. It’s never going to be easy offensively against them where you can just freely get the exact type of shots that you want. It’s a credit to them. However, there were segments and pockets of the game where there was a lapse of either energy offensively or concentration and discipline defensively and those moments were usually when we were up double digits."

THE TURNING POINT

Wade stole the ball out of Chris Douglas-Roberts’ hands with the Heat up three. Douglas-Robert was called for a clear path foul with 1.6 left. Wade made one of two foul shots to close out the game.

"It wasn’t my man," Wade said. "I did my job on Gary Neal and I saw that he was bobbling the ball a little bit and he was right there. Just had an opportunity and the ball was right there. I grabbed it. If he was going up for a shot I wouldn’t have did it. Rio did a good job crowding him on a corner and I got the opportunity to make a play."

Game 2

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

James just missed on a triple-double with a game-high 32 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Big Three of James, Wade and Bosh scored 19 of the Heat’s 22 fourth-quarter points.

"Coach put the ball in our hands and put us in situations where we can be aggressive," Wade said. "Chris played big (Wednesday), really had a great game shooting the ball. Obviously, LeBron was LeBron. I came in the fourth quarter and tried to up my play on both ends of the floor."

WHAT’S NEXT

Game 3 will be 7 p.m. Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.