Miami Heat 101, Charlotte Bobcats 97—Miami leads series, 2-0
The Miami Heat held off a furious charge from the Charlotte Bobcats to take Game 2 on Wednesday night, 101-97.
Much of the pre-game speculation centered around the health and effectiveness of Bobcats big man Al Jefferson, who is suffering from plantar fasciitis.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Ira Winderman gauged Jefferson's fitness as he warmed up with Bobcats assistant coach Patrick Ewing: "Al Jefferson showed in pregame warmup sessions he's better than Patrick Ewing. Of course, Ewing is 51."
Unfortunately for Bobcats fans, Jefferson couldn't even make it through the first quarter before heading back to the locker room.
"He said it felt like it ripped a little bit more," coach Steve Clifford said of Jefferson's foot injury, per ESPN.
Jefferson did come back in the second quarter, but he was largely ineffective, scoring just six points in the first half on 3-of-10 shooting.
The Heat, meanwhile, put 57 points on the tough Bobcats' D in the first half thanks to a typically dominant performance from LeBron James (18 points) and an atypically dominant performance from Mario Chalmers (11 points).
Just when Jefferson and the Bobcats seemed finished, however, they stormed back in the third quarter, closing the gap to seven. The Charlotte big man played one of the guttiest quarters of basketball in recent history, with 10 points and six rebounds in 11 minutes.
The Bobcats gave Miami everything it could handle late in the fourth quarter, but the Heat managed to hold on. Chris Douglas-Roberts had a chance to bring Charlotte even, but bricked a late three-pointer. A rough foul from Josh McRoberts put James on the line, but he missed a free throw, and Miami turned the ball over on the following possession.
Down four, Charlotte's Kemba Walker hit a miraculous three to put the pressure on Miami. But James hit two free throws, and the Heat defense suffocated Charlotte on the final play of the game.
LeBron James, Heat: 32 PTS, 6 REB, 8 AST, 4 STL
Dwyane Wade, Heat: 15 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST
Chris Bosh, Heat: 20 PTS, 5 REB
Al Jefferson, Bobcats: 18 PTS, 13 REB
Kemba Walker, Bobcats: 16 PTS, 3 REB, 8 AST
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 22 PTS, 10 REB, 2 AST
The series will shift to Charlotte for Game 3 on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Miami will be looking to close out this series as soon as possible to get their veterans—particularly Dwyane Wade—some much needed rest. Losing even one game in Charlotte would likely be viewed as a disappointment.
As for the Bobcats, they should head home with their heads held high. The injury to Jefferson ended whatever faint hopes they had of making this a real series, but the underdog Bobcats still went toe-to-toe with the defending champs on their home court for two games. Hopefully the fans in Charlotte give their boys a standing ovation, regardless of the final result.