Bosh may be closer, and Heat show a need in Game 3

LeBron James has had too many nights like this, where he

couldn’t get enough help for long stretches of the game.

It’s just that most of them were back in Cleveland.

He’s not counting on Chris Bosh for Game 4, which means Dwyane

Wade and Miami’s role players will have to get back to the way

they’ve been playing since Bosh was injured.

”We’ve played great ball since he’s been out in Game 1 of the

last round,” James said. ”Guys have stepped up in his absence and

guys will have to continue to step up in his absence. We don’t know

when Chris will be back. We’re not going into the next game hoping

that he’s going to be there or whatever the case may be. We’ve got

to prepare like he’s not playing. We’ll prepare for Game 4 like

he’s not playing.”

With a quiet first half from Wade and little contributions from

any other starter, James’ 34 points were wasted in a 101-91 loss

Friday night that cut the Heat’s lead over the Boston Celtics in

the Eastern Conference finals to 2-1.

Bosh seems closer to returning from injury, and for the first

time since early in the last round, the Heat look like they need

him. Game 4 is Sunday in Boston.

James had 30 points through three quarters, the rest of his

teammates managing only 33. He had 14 of their 26 field goals at

that point as the Heat dug themselves a 22-point hole through

three, too big to climb out of even with a big fourth quarter.

”I can’t speak for everyone else, but LeBron was very

aggressive,” Wade said. ”Our offensive rhythm wasn’t necessarily

there as much, we didn’t make as many shots as we wanted to, but he

kept us afloat.”

Wade finished with 18 points and Mario Chalmers had 14, but many

of those came in a fourth-quarter comeback that never got

particularly close. Wade’s streak of 12 straight 20-point games

against the Celtics in the postseason, longest since Jerry West did

it 18 straight times from 1966-69, was snapped after he shot 9 of


”They were very aggressive trying to get the ball out of his

hands, and the ball was moving at times,” said Heat coach Erik

Spoelstra, who denied there was anything wrong with Wade. ”We

still need ways to get it back to him at the second or third ball


He did not attempt a free throw for the first time in a playoff

game since his rookie year of 2004. James took only five, making

one, as the Heat were 10 of 20 as a team.

”We’ll be more aggressive and find ways to get to the rim and

to the free throw line next game,” Spoelstra said.

There was no hint of any trouble early for the Heat, who were

shooting nearly 70 percent from the field in the first quarter and

had a six-point lead. Suddenly they went cold, going scoreless for

about 7 minutes while the Celtics ran off 15 straight points to go

ahead 37-28 with 7:47 remaining in the second period.

The deficit grew to 13 points at halftime, when Wade was just 3

of 9 for six points. The Heat were just 5 of 18 (28 percent) in the

second quarter, with Wade missing six of his eight attempts.

The Heat, with youth and athleticism on their side, remained a

force whenever they got in transition. But they stalled beyond

James in the halfcourt for long stretches, settling for


That’s where Bosh would help. The Heat often throw it into him

and move to open spots to begin their offense, and he is one of

their best shooters. Certainly better than Shane Battier, his

replacement in the starting lineup who missed all six shot

attempts, some of them nowhere close.

The Heat are still saying Bosh is out indefinitely with the

lower abdominal strain he sustained in Game 1 of the second-round

series with Indiana. He traveled with Miami to Boston and took part

the Heat’s morning workout Friday, but they didn’t do much so it’s

hard to gauge any progress by that.

Spoelstra said the All-Star forward will be re-evaluated daily,

but wouldn’t say if that meant he would be able to play in Game 4.

Though the Heat know they would need him for any shot at a

championship, they had played so well behind a dynamic two-man game

from James and Wade that it seemed they had overcome a dependence

on Bosh.

”Probably the biggest confidence-builder for our basketball

team was the mere fact that for the last two years we simply

couldn’t win without Chris, but we simply couldn’t play effectively

without Chris. He was our most important player,” Spoelstra said

before the game.

James is now, but he can’t do it alone. That didn’t work against

the Celtics when he was still in Cleveland, and it wasn’t enough

when he was forced to do it for too long Friday.