Heat lose lead, then hold off Bobcats
Dwyane Wade's night perfectly summed up the way things went for the Miami Heat. Fast start, frightening finish, with more than a few queasy moments.
In the end, LeBron James and Chris Bosh proved to be suitable medicine.
James scored 32 points, Bosh added 22 points and 14 rebounds, and the Heat wasted another huge lead before rallying to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 95-87 on Friday night.
Fighting off a flu-like bug, Wade scored 11 for the Heat, who led by as many as 21 in the second quarter but found themselves down 82-80 after Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer with 4:56 remaining. And that brought back the tough-to-shake memories of Utah again: Earlier in this now-completed, six-game homestand, the Heat blew a 22-point lead against the Jazz and lost in overtime.
Not this time.
Bosh and James scored the next 11 Heat points, Miami went up for good on James' short jumper with 3:27 left, and the rally was good enough.
"We found a way to win a grind-out game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, after his team moved to 8-4 and finished 4-2 on the homestand. "It was ugly at times. It was not smooth ... but these games are good for us right now."
Jackson finished with 30 points for Charlotte, which got 12 from Nazr Mohammed and 10 from Shaun Livingston.
"Things went their way during the game and LeBron was a tough cover, but they did what they needed to do to win the game," Jackson said.
Wade's availability wasn't even certain until about 45 minutes before the game. He missed the morning shootaround while seeing a doctor because of flu-like symptoms, opened Friday by hitting his first four shots - then went 0 for 9 the rest of the way.
Didn't matter. Wade left his mark in other ways.
"Just his mere presence," Spoelstra said, "often helps."
Wade broke up a lob at the rim in the fourth quarter, grabbed a key rebound minutes later, and helped seal the win by finding James Jones for a 3-pointer from the right corner with 19 seconds remaining.
The fact that Charlotte found a way to come all the way back against Miami shouldn't have been surprising.
Given the way this season has gone, a 56-37 halftime deficit was uncharacteristic for Charlotte. The Bobcats had lost seven games coming into Friday, only one of them by more than 10 points, their most recent four by a combined total of 15.
So, somewhat predictably, the Bobcats made things interesting quickly in the third quarter.
"We could have packed in," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said.
They did anything but.
After scoring 14 points in the entire second quarter, the Bobcats put up 14 points in the first 4 minutes of the third. Jackson hit consecutive 3-pointers, the last of which drew Charlotte within 58-51. And even after the Heat restored a 14-point cushion later in the quarter, Jackson's drive down the left side of the lane got the Bobcats within seven again, 75-68 entering the fourth.
"If we would have played like that at the beginning of the game we wouldn't be down and have to fight back," Jackson said. "That's what we need to do, bring that same intensity that we brought in the second half in the first quarter and we'll be OK."
Bosh made four straight free throws to give the Heat a 90-85 edge with 1:07 left, followed by perhaps the night's biggest turning point. Udonis Haslem drew a charge on the ensuing possession, fouling Gerald Wallace out of the game on the play.
Wallace got a technical after the fact, a disappointing end to a disappointing night for the Bobcats, who lost for the eighth time in 12 games.
"Give them credit," Brown said. "LeBron made some big plays, Jones hits a big shot, and Bosh got to the free-throw line. They finished better than we did."
A 15-6 run over the final 7 minutes of the half gave the Heat a 56-37 lead going into the break. Charlotte missed nine of its last 12 shots before intermission, and the Heat were getting balance - six different players scored during the spurt, no one getting more than Wade's four.
They needed every bit of that lead. Charlotte outscored Miami 31-19 in the third, then scored just five points in the game's final 4:55.
NOTES: From the you-never-know-what-you'll-see department, Pete Rose was at the game, and signed a baseball for a young boy as he departed through a courtside tunnel. "On the sweet spot, Pete," the boy yelled, and baseball's all-time hits leader obliged. ... Wade took a hard fall midway through the second quarter while committing an offensive foul. He was shaken up but remained in the game. ... Bobcats G D.J. Augustin's bid for a fourth-straight game with 10 or more assists was thwarted; he finished with five. ... Jones matched a career-best by hitting a 3-pointer for the 14th straight game.