- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - LeBron James heard the cheers from the crowd as he lay on the court holding his right thigh and writhing in pain.

It only seemed to awaken the four-time league MVP.

James scored 19 of his game-high 31 points after sustaining a thigh bruise early in the third quarter, helping the Miami Heat earn a first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats with a 109-98 victory Monday night. He finished Game 4 10 of 19 from the field and had nine assists.

“It’s definitely sore,” James said. “I’m fortunate we were able to close out tonight and I can give it a little rest.”

He should have plenty of time.

The two-time defending NBA champions will await the winner of Brooklyn-Toronto series, which is tied 2-2. If that series goes the distance it won’t wrap up until Sunday.

James said playing Charlotte was a good first test and Miami is headed in the right direction as it looks to win its third straight NBA championship.

“We got tested by a young, scrappy Bobcats team,” said James, who averaged 36.2 points in eight games against Charlotte this season. “We responded with a championship-type attitude.”

Chris Bosh added 17 points and Dwyane Wade battled through foul trouble and finished with 15 as Miami extended its winning streak over Charlotte to 20 games.

The Heat improved to 16-2 in first-round games since James‘ arrival four years ago. This was the second straight year the Heat swept their first-round series, taking out Milwaukee in four games last season.

This was Miami’s ninth consecutive series victory.

“We improved every game and that’s the most important thing about this series,” James said.

Miami began to take control midway through the third quarter shortly after James gave his teammates a scare when he drove to the basket from the left wing and his right thigh collided with Bismack Biyombo’s knee, sending James to the floor.

Concerned teammates gathered around him and he was down for about a minute.

James eventually got up and hobbled to the bench where sat down during a timeout. But he stayed in the game.

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