Even though the Heat won 97-81, credit the Bobcats.
They came on strong at the end of the first quarter and closed out the second with a Kemba Walker buzzer-beater. They began the second half in the same fashion. It really didn’t matter; the Heat have that LBJ fella.
The Heat were without guard Mario Chalmers, serving a one-game suspension for throwing an elbow at Dirk Nowitzki on Friday night. Ray Allen (sore shoulder) and Udonis Haslem (back spasms) missed the contest as well.
As for the Bobcats, big man Al Jefferson was out due to lingering ankle issues.
Wade scored four points on 1-of-7 shooting. Bosh had seven points, three boards and five fouls. That’s not a knock on them—everybody has their off nights.
The Big Three was a natural tag to assign to James, Wade and Bosh. The description is not without its merit; the Heat put together an impressive amalgamation of stars during the summer of 2010. Sometimes, however, it takes away from just how much better James is than them—and everyone else.
The Heat got into early foul trouble Saturday night.
Bosh and backup center Chris Andersen each picked up two in the first quarter. It didn’t seem to faze the Heat all that much; their bench is that deep. Plus, LBJ happened. His huge game came in under 32 minutes on 13-of-18 shooting. James also had four boards, seven dimes, a block and a steal.
Michael Beasley had 15 points off the bench on 7-of 14 shooting. Andersen also made a difference, with 10 points, seven rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one steal, including going 6-of-6 from the line.
Still, it was James’ night. An athlete at the peak of his prowess, he has the ability to effortlessly flip the switch. It’s not a matter of coasting until that point, it’s simply having an extra passing gear.
Whether finishing a first-quarter Norris Cole bounce-pass with a two-handed slam or swatting Kemba Walker’s shot into the stands in the third quarter, James always seems to make it count at the most opportune moments.
That is what makes the great ones legendary.
The Bobcats made their runs. They were only down four to start the second half. They closed the gap again early in the fourth, but it was all for naught. James was able to sub out with 7:52 to go for the rest of the night.
Per John Delong for The Sports Xchange and Yahoo! Sports, James credited his teammates:
I'm extremely proud of them, the way they were able to bump the lead up. I had intentions of going back in, but once they got going I said let them keep going. They had a great rhythm. It was great to see.
The season may be young, but it already seems clear: The road to a three-peat goes through LeBron. The San Antonio Spurs have the Big Fundamental. The Heat have the Big Eraser.