James, Heat hand Bobcats 16th straight loss

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Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem, bottom, looks to pass as Charlotte Bobcats’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, top, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

CHARLOTTE, N.C.– It wasn’t pretty, but the Miami Heat avoided a big letdown and got the win they needed.

LeBron James had 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Heat handed the Charlotte Bobcats their 16th straight loss, 105-92 on Wednesday night.

Dwyane Wade scored 29 points and had nine rebounds as Miami extended its
winning streak to six.

One night after an emotional win over Oklahoma City, James and Wade made sure there would be no lull against the Bobcats.

While the Heat led 55-38 at halftime, they didn’t put the Bobcats away until late.

Charlotte cut the Miami lead to 84-82 when Gerald Henderson completed a three-point play with 7:16 left. But James knocked down a 3-pointer, Wade hit a pair of jumpers, and Shane Battier added a 3-pointer from the right corner to complete an 11-3 run that pushed the lead to 10.

Miami wasn’t challenged again.

Kemba Walker had 27 points, and Ramon Sessions added 19 points for the Bobcats (7-21), who haven’t won since Nov. 24.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game his team respected the Bobcats. He hinted he was a little worried about the energy Miami expended against the

Thunder and whether the Heat would get up for a team that had lost 15 straight.

Spoelstra talked to his players before the game, and his words seemed to work.

James made sure the Heat brought the intensity with four dunks in the first seven minutes.

Miami opened a 9-0 lead in the blink of an eye behind a 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers and three straight dunks – two by James and another by Bosh. James was the catalyst in the first quarter with 11 points – eight coming on fast-break dunks – with four steals and four rebounds.

It looked as though they were on their way to a blowout.

That wasn’t the case.

While the Heat never trailed, and led by as many as 19, they couldn’t put away the Bobcats, who were playing without starting center Byron Mullens, guard Ben Gordon, and forward Tyrus Thomas due to injuries.

Hakim Warrick, making his first start for the Bobcats in place of the injured Mullens, had with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Sessions provided a big lift off the bench hitting 7 of 12 shots from the field, most coming off drives to the hole against an outmatched Mike Miller.

Still, it wasn’t enough.

Miami shot 46 percent from the field, with James and Wade combining to make 19 of 38 shots.

Chris Bosh added 14 points.

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