Daring duo deliver as Heat blitz Bobcats 99-88

James, Wade spearhead Miami's charge in play-offs, but sharpshooter Jones gives extra spurt to clinch game one over Charlotte in East series

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 9:30pm

Each of the last two Miami championship runs has been highlighted by moments where a sharpshooter enters a game and provides a surprise spark.

James Jones got his turn this time in game one.

And the lift he brought, combined with the expected play-off showings from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, have the Heat to a top start.

He's going to be a very, very key ingredient to our success
LeBron James on Heat teammate James Jones

James scored 27 points, Wade added 23 and the Heat rode two big runs - one late in the first half and the other down the stretch - to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-88 in game one of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Miami trailed for much of the first half, but rallied and has topped Charlotte 17 straight times.

"We were flat to start," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I think our guys were just anxious."

Game two of the best-of-seven series is tomorrow. Al Jefferson will get plenty of treatment until then.

Kemba Walker scored 20 points for the Bobcats, who started fast behind Jefferson - who was diagnosed with a strained left plantar fascia after a misstep in the first quarter, and got a pair of injections to continue playing.

"We did some really good things today," Walker said. "We just have to keep executing throughout the game. We can't get rattled."

Jefferson still finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds - yet in what cannot be a real exciting sign for Charlotte, he left the arena in a walking boot.

"Just got to suck it up, man," said Jefferson, who confessed that he was no fan of needles, but insisted he did not plan on sitting out.

Gary Neal scored 17 and Josh McRoberts added 15 for Charlotte, who shot only 12 free throws compared to 26 by Miami, and allowed the Heat to see their 15 turnovers become 20 points.

"If we're going to have 15 turnovers, we're not going to win," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

Miami sealed it with an 18-4 run in the fourth, all but three of those points coming with James getting a rest. Luke Ridnour made a high-arcing baseline jumper over Ray Allen with 10:29 left to get Charlotte within 74-69.

That is when James got a breather. He returned to breathing room.

Chris Andersen had a tip-in for a 12-point lead, Wade - who shot 10 for 16 - made a 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down with 6:50 left to make it 85-70, and another score by Andersen pushed the margin to 17. With that, game one was secure.

"That group that was in once I took that break at the 10-minute mark in the fourth quarter, they just bumped the lead," James said.

"Obviously, to have three Hall of Famers in the game when I'm out of the game, CB, D-Wade and Ray ... that was big time."

So was Jones.

He did not play in the first half of any play-off game last season and was out of the rotation much of this year. But when he checked in with 4:19 left in the half on Sunday, Miami led 35-34.

"Hell of a spark," Wade said.

Before long, it was 47-36, Jones scoring four of those late as Miami wrapped up a 19-2 run. He added five more in the third, and his 3-pointer with 10:08 left kick-started what became the game-deciding spurt down the stretch.

"When you're dressed, you're expected to perform," Jones said.

Two years ago, it was Mike Miller giving a lift to the Heat in that off-the-bench role. Last year, it was Miller and Shane Battier sharing those honours. Miller is in Memphis now, Battier is out of the rotation, and that means a door may be opening for Jones.

"He's going to be a very, very key ingredient to our success," James said.