MIAMI (AP) — In Miami, it’s called the Big Three for a reason.
LeBron James was stellar for the Heat in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against Charlotte, and Dwyane Wade helped save the game with a steal to deny the Bobcats a chance at tying the game in the final seconds.
And perhaps best for Miami, Chris Bosh might have found his offensive groove again.
It’s a simple formula: When Bosh — the oft-overlooked member in Miami’s trio of stars — is scoring at playoff time, the Heat are usually winning. He had 20 points Wednesday night in Miami’s 101-97 win over the Bobcats, and the Heat are now 12-2 in postseason games when Bosh reaches that number.
Going back to the regular season, it was just the second time Bosh had scored at least 20 in his last 17 games.
“I was just in the rhythm of the game,” said Bosh, who was 8 for 11 from the floor and made a playoff career-best four 3-pointers. “I was open and just wanted to be aggressive and take my shots and make sure I pick my spots correctly.”
He did and picked those spots in bunches.
Bosh was scoreless in the first quarter before four mini-streaks paid big dividends for Miami. He had five points to get rolling early in the second quarter and five more in a span of less than a minute later in the half. Then a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter and two quick baskets late in the fourth helped stave off a big rally by the Bobcats.
“We don’t want people to notice,” said James, who finished with 32 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals — his first game with at least that many in all those categories in more than two years. “We want people to just continue to let him get his shots. He’s one of the best shooters we have in our league. He’s on time and on target. He’s a big part of our success.”
Those last two baskets from Bosh were timely: Charlotte was on a 10-0 run and had sliced a 14-point Miami lead down to four in the final minutes before Bosh stepped up and gave the Heat a cushion.
The Heat — who are off Thursday — now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0, with Game 3 in Charlotte on Saturday night. Even with a 2-0 lead, and after the Heat were the lone higher-seeded team to escape the first two games of a series in this year’s playoffs unscathed, Bosh was among the first in the Miami locker room afterward to say the two-time defending champions have to play better.
“If we have a double-digit lead, we’re going to have to do a better job of not giving up those double-digit leads,” Bosh said. “We can’t do that come Saturday. We’ve got to play a complete game.
“They’re going to be ready for us. They’re going to be re-energized in front of their home crowd, so it’ll be a good test for us.”
Bosh’s scoring and 3-pointers predictably got attention. But Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his complete game mattered the most.
“This is the tough thing about Chris,” Spoelstra said. “The only time people notice his value is if he is knocking down shots. And he does so many other things. The radar goes up. He knocked down some 3’s, but look on the other end. … He has to do all those things for us — facilitate, space the floor, find ways to be aggressive and attack. I think he struck that balance.”
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