Miami Heat beat Charlotte 105-92, extends winning streak

extends winning streak

Erik Spoelstra tried.

During Wednesday's midday walkthrough at the team hotel, he tried to tell his team how they would have to find "a different kind of motivation," that they would be dealing with "a totally different challenge," that they would have to show "respect."

He tried to sell it all mere hours after his team's compelling Christmas Day victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at AmericanAirlines Arena.

And then hours later, his Miami Heat took the court against the NBA's version of the Washington Generals, and surely recognized that this would have little to do with "motivation" or "challenge" or "respect."

Not against a Charlotte Bobcats team that entered on a 15-game losing streak.

Oh, the Heat tried to show they respected the moment, rolling to a 9-0 lead, then making it 13-2, later pushing to a 19-point first-half advantage, but then, as Spoelstra feared, his Miami Heat players simply lost focus.

Ultimately, there was a 105-92 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena that extended the Heat's winning streak to six.

"Found a way," Spoelstra exhaled when it was over. "And every experience is a good experience, and so we'll take this on a back-to-back.

"We didn't respond quite the way we would have liked, but there were some good things that happened."

Such as LeBron James closing two assists shy of a triple-double, with 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Such as Dwyane Wade continuing his solid recent play, with 29 points, nine rebounds and  five assists.

Such as Mario Chalmers following up his solid play against the Thunder with 17 points against the Bobcats, this time 4 of 6 on 3-pointers.

And such as celebrating afterward in the locker room with a group "Wooo!" with local wrestling legend Ric Flair.

"One of the creators of what we call swag, that guy," a smiling James said after Flair departed the locker room giving a thumbs up.

So yes, Spoelstra got the win he wanted, his players filled up the box score nicely, James got to relive some of his childhood wrestling memories, and the Heat avoided the trap door.

"But we started losing our focus in the second half," admitted center Chris Bosh, who battled foul trouble and closed with 14 points. "That's a natural letdown."

Because even with 27 points, Charlotte's Kemba Walker isn't Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. And even with 19, the Bobcats' Ramon Sessions isn't the Thunder's Russell Westbrook.

This actually and ultimately required a recovery from that natural letdown.

After pushing to that 19-point lead in the first half and standing ahead 55-38 at halftime, the lead was down to 78-71 after the third quarter and 84-82 after a Gerald Henderson 3-point play with 7:16 to play that left Bosh with his fifth foul.

But that's when James stepped up with a 3-pointer that put him over 20 points for the 26th time in as many games this season and gave the Heat an 87-82 lead.

Later, a 3-pointer by Walker drew the Bobcats within 88-85, but Wade responded with a pair of baskets for a 92-85 lead.

Shane Battier followed with a 3-pointer for a 95-85 Heat lead, effectively putting it away and emptying the stands.

The team that somehow found a way to lose to the Washington Wizards earlier this month this time found a way to avoid repeat indignity.

Instead, it ultimately led only to a 16th consecutive Bobcats loss.

For the Heat, it was part of the NBA's 82-game drudgery, never trailing.

Even with Ray Allen sidelined by a bruised right shoulder, sustained late in Tuesday's victory over the Thunder, the Heat were able to handle all the required necessities, albeit with less ease than expected.

"We're not going to shortcut anything," James said of having to dig deeper than expected.  "We know teams are going to make runs."

With Allen missing his first game of the season, with what the team termed as minor "stinger," Spoelstra was allowed to get rare early minutes for James Jones, who came up with five points and four rebounds.


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