Miami survives Bobcats' best shot
LeBron James drove to the rim as time was winding down, got clobbered by Josh McRoberts and sat on the hardwood gathering himself for a few seconds afterward.
It was fitting. Miami took Charlotte's best shot, and survived.
James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Heat wasted two big leads before hanging on to beat the Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
"We can play better basketball," James said. "We haven't played our best basketball."
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to seal the win for Miami. He stripped the ball from Chris Douglas-Roberts with the Heat protecting a three-point lead with about 3 seconds left, and the Bobcats never got another shot off.
"A very instinctual, high-risk play," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "The ball's there and you know you have an opportunity to get it when most people can't get that, and that saved the game."
Game 3 is Saturday in Charlotte. The Heat were the NBA's only higher-seed to open the playoffs with two home wins.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte, which got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23.
Jefferson said he felt the tear worsen early on in the game, said it was "a lot of pain" but again insisted he would keep playing.
"He's not anywhere close to 100 percent," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "But we can play through him. ... You've got to respect the fact he's out there battling. He has no mobility, basically. Limited mobility and yet he had 18 and 13, and he fought hard."
So was McRoberts — maybe too hard for Miami's liking.
Miami's lead was 97-94 with 50 seconds left when James drove and was met at the rim by McRoberts, whose right elbow struck the four-time NBA MVP around his chin. James immediately began grabbing at his throat and needed much longer than he usually does to get up after a hard foul, which was not called flagrant.
"I don't need to see it again," James said. "Most important thing is we won the game."
Said McRoberts, who insisted it wasn't intentional: "It looked a lot worse than what it was."
James hit the second of his two free throws, making it a two-possession game — and that was critical. Kemba Walker made a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left to get Charlotte within one, but the Bobcats didn't score again.
"I think we're still really confident," Walker said. "We just have to learn from our mistakes. ... I think we have a chance, man."
Walker finished with 16 and Gerald Henderson scored 15 for the Bobcats. Mario Chalmers scored 11 for Miami.
So while the Heat were saying that all they have done was hold serve at home, it's hard to find a real silver lining for Charlotte. Not only have the Bobcats now lost 18 consecutive games against Miami, but the Heat have never dropped any of the previous 11 postseason series in which they've grabbed a 2-0 series lead.
James, between his time in Cleveland and Miami, is 11-0 in such situations. Wade has been part of nine previous 2-0 leads with the Heat, and six of those series ended in no more than five games.
"They're going to keep coming at us," Wade said. "And that's good."
Miami's lead was 91-77 midway through the fourth, and after blowing a big first-half lead, it appeared as though the Heat finally had some breathing room. A few minutes later, it looked a whole lot different.
Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist and Douglas-Roberts combined on a 10-0 run, getting the Bobcats within 91-87. But Bosh scored on consecutive possessions, pushing the Heat lead to eight with 3:36 remaining.
"We got out of our here with the win, but we're going to have to tighten up a little bit," Bosh said. "We had a little bit of slippage today."
Miami led 57-47 at the half, and the Bobcats — who missed 17 of their first 22 shots — were fortunate, after facing a 16-point deficit at one point in the early going.
And while Charlotte kept coming back, it never led in the final 41 minutes.
NOTES: Jefferson has not shot a free throw in the series. ... James has signed with William Morris, which will represent him in entertainment-related projects. ... Game 3 will be Charlotte's first playoff home game since April 26, 2010, against Orlando. No current Bobcats appeared in that game — but Heat F Rashard Lewis did, for Orlando.
MAVERICKS 113, SPURS 92
SAN ANTONIO — Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled past San Antonio, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
Shawn Marion scored 20 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 16, Devin Harris had 18 and Jose Calderon 12 for Dallas, which never trailed after the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Manu Ginobili had 27 points, Tony Parker added 12 and Tim Duncan 11 for the Spurs.
Dallas didn't relent in Game 2 after blowing a 10-point lead in the final eight minutes of the series opener. San Antonio's ineptness had as much to do with tying the series, however. The Spurs averaged 14.4 turnovers during the regular season, but had 15 with 3 minutes left in the first half. They finished with 22 turnovers, which resulted in 33 points for the Mavericks.
TRAIL BLAZERS 112, ROCKETS 105
HOUSTON — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a victory over the Houston Rockets and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within three. Lillard made two free throws before Harden fouled out about 10 seconds later. Mo Williams and Lillard both made a pair of free throws after that to secure the win.
Aldridge became the first player with consecutive 40-point games in the playoffs since LeBron James did it in May of 2009 after scoring a career-high and franchise playoff-record 46 in an overtime win in Game 1.
Dwight Howard scored 25 points in the first half, but managed just seven in the second half for Houston.