LeBron James, Heat shrug off Bobcats’ best shot in Game 2 victory
MIAMI — LeBron James drove toward the basket with less than a minute remaining Wednesday night in an attempt to build on the Miami Heat’s three-point lead.
As he exploded to the hoop, James took Charlotte forward Josh McRoberts’ forearm to the throat.
Miami’s King went to the floor in obvious discomfort.
"It’s not a very good feeling," James said. "I was attacking the lane and then the contact happened. So, I was just trying to catch my breath and hopefully it wasn’t too bad and I could just finish off the game."
He did. James got up and helped the Heat hold off the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series.
Miami became the only team in this year’s NBA playoffs to start a series by winning the first two games on its home court.
James scored 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including eight of nine from the paint and one of five from 3-point range. In Game 1, he scored 27 points and hit four of eight from behind the arc.
"I was just trying to continue to put pressure on their defense," James said of his Game 2 performance. "I was able to go to the line 12 times tonight (sinking nine), score in the interior and also be able to find my guys tonight.
"I had one assist in Game 1. I was able to finish with eight tonight. That’s very important, keeping my guys in tune, keeping them in a good rhythm."
James became the third player since 1990 to have at least 32 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals in a postseason game. He joined Chris Paul (2011) and Gary Payton (2000).
The outcome wasn’t secured until Dwyane Wade sealed the deal with a steal of Chris Douglas-Roberts with less than second on the clock.
Wade got the statistic, but James got credit for disrupting the play.
"LeBron did a good job of getting through a pick," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "We don’t have someone of size who can come off a pick and rise up late. To get a 3 in that situation, you need someone of size and athleticism who can get a shot up quickly."
The Heat appeared headed for a relatively easy victory after building a 16-point cushion in the second quarter and holding a 10-point half-time lead. Those numbers seemed a bit larger because Bobcats center Al Jefferson clearly was affected by a plantar fascia injury suffered in Game 1.
But just as their center endured the pain to post a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds), the pesky Bobcats refused to be put away. Little more than four minutes after trailing by 10 points, Charlotte pulled within 97-94 when Jefferson hit a 12-foot jumper with 1:42 left in the fourth quarter.
"They’re a scrappy team and they put themselves in a very good position the last two months of the season because of the way they play," James said. "They don’t give up. We’ve had some good leads, throughout this game and in the first game, and they’ve been able to scrap back."
Following a 20-second timeout and an exchange of scoreless possessions, James grabbed a rebound of a Douglas-Robert’s errant 3-point try.
That led to James taking McRoberts’ forearm to the throat, an action that, to the surprise of some people, did not warrant a flagrant foul call.
"I haven’t seen the replay, but he takes a lot of those hits," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Whether it’s a basketball play, or making a play on the ball or not, I’m curious to see."
McRoberts insisted his foul was not intentional.
"He was coming pretty fast down the lane," McRoberts said. "He’s a real strong guy and I was just trying to stop him from first getting the shot up. I think I just got caught up in the air. It looked worse than it was."
Unless you’re asking James.
"I haven’t seen it again," said James, who after the foul sank one of two free throws. "I don’t need to see it again. The most important thing is we won."
Wade credited James with keeping his cool in such moments.
"He handles it very well," Wade said. "He’s a guy who could get a load of technical fouls, and he doesn’t really get into too many scuffles. He understands the position he’s in that he gets beaten up, but he handles it as well as you can handle it.
"I played with another guy who handled it well, Shaq. He was a guy who just got beat down."
And like James, always got up.