LeBron, Wade Help Heat Close Out Physical Contest Against the Reeling Bobcats
LeBron James opened the game with four dunks barely midway through the first quarter.
The next two times he tried to bring the crowd to its feet, he was denied at the rim.
First, Gerald Henderson got a hand on a LeBron lefty dunk attempt; then, in the second quarter, a Henderson foul put James into the basket stanchion, bringing the teams together after Heat mainstay Udonis Haslem took exception to the clean but hard foul and was assessed a technical along with Henderson.
The champion Heat expected a playoff-type atmosphere against Finals foe Oklahoma City on Christmas Day.
They likely didn't count on Charlotte answering the bell after a flourish to start Wednesday's game.
Continuing a stretch of four games in five nights, Miami started fast against the Bobcats, racing out to a 13-2 lead for the second straight contest.
While the Heat led wire-to-wire, they would get an inspired effort from the home team.
In the end, a dozen Heat threes and a big fourth quarter by James and Dwyane Wade would finish off the 'Cats, 105-92.
Kemba Walker, now in his sophomore season after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Connecticut, scored just eight points at Denver on Saturday after averaging 25.75 points in his previous four games. However, he bounced back with 27 points, six rebounds and six assists to go along with two steals.
Miami got another strong performance from point guard Mario Chalmers, who connected on four threes for the second game in a row.
A 15-6 run got Charlotte within two at 84-82 on a three-point play by Henderson, but a James three pushed the lead back to five and immediately prompted a timeout by Charlotte head coach Mike Dunlap.
Walker’s fourth three of the night made it 88-85 before Wade answered with consecutive jumpers, and James found Shane Battier for a corner three to push the advantage back to double figures, 95-85.
James, who on Monday was named Eastern Conference player of the week, continued his nightly flirtation with the box score, nearly notching a triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. The weekly honor was the 40th of his career, according to Fox Sports columnist Chris Tomasson.
Ramon Sessions was a spark off the bench for Charlotte, scoring seven straight Bobcat points to end the opening quarter and cut a 13-point deficit down to nine, 27-18. Sessions finished with 19 points.
After matching last season’s win total of seven after just a dozen games, the Bobcats became the first team in NBA history with three separate losing streaks of 16 or more games in the same calendar year, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
It was the Heat's ninth consecutive win against Charlotte.
Do you think Wade should be punished for kicking Sessions in the groin?
Hakim Warrick had season highs of 18 points and nine boards, starting in place of power forward Byron Mullens.
Wade and James combined to score 21 of the Heat's 27 fourth-quarter points, matching Charlotte's total for the period.
Wade completed four and-1s on his way to scoring a game-high 29 points.
Charlotte came with great energy out of the locker room, cutting the deficit to seven by winning the third quarter 33-23, led by Walker with eight points.
A Sessions fourth-quarter foul on Wade could be reviewed by the league. On the play, Wade extended his left leg into Sessions’ groin, naturally upsetting Sessions. The teams again came together, but cooler heads would prevail.
The NBA league offices will almost assuredly consider action, especially after Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins popped O.J. Mayo earlier this season, albeit in a different way, but with similar results.
The Heat takes its franchise-best 20-6 start to Auburn Hills, Mich., to play the Pistons on Friday.
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