James was taking over and the Miami Heat, well, they were starting to look like the Miami Heat of the past two seasons. Unlike the first two games of the series, James made sure this game wouldn’t be close.
James had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat easily defeated the Bobcats 98-85 Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference first round. Dwyane Wade added 17 points for the Heat, who can close out the best-of-seven series Monday night.
“We were locked in on what needs to be done and our keys to win this game,” James said.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his players took a “professional approach” following a 101-97 win Game 2 that came down the wire, dedicating themselves to fixing their mistakes rather than being satisfied with the win.
Now he said the challenge is closing out the Bobcats.
“You don’t want a series to go longer than it needs to,” Spoelstra said.
Al Jefferson finished with 20 points - 15 in the first quarter - for the Bobcats, who are still searching for the first postseason win in franchise history.
After trailing most of the first half, the Heat took control in the final four minutes of the second quarter.
Miami made 8 of their first 11 3-pointers.
The half, which had started with so much energy and promise for the Bobcats, ended with a colossal mistake by guard Gerald Henderson. With the clock winding down, he turned the ball over in the backcourt with 2 seconds left and then fouled James while the Miami forward was attempting a 3-pointer. James made the Bobcats pay by sinking three free throws with 0.2 left on the clock to give the Heat a 58-46 advantage at the break.
“We butchered the last three-and-a-half minutes of the first half,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.