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James, Wade lead Heat past Bobcats 99-88 in Game 1

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 20, 2014 at 6:10 pm •  Published: April 20, 2014
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With that, Game 1 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 didn't play in the first half of any playoff 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 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 was wrapping up a 19-2 run. He added five more in the third, and his 3-pointer with 10:08 left kickstarted 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 honors. 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.

Charlotte had four players making their first playoff starts. It was also the first national-television appearance this season for the Bobcats, who seemed anything but overwhelmed by the moment.

Walker made a 3-pointer to beat the first-half buzzer, drawing Charlotte within 49-42. That started an 11-0 run by the Bobcats, who scored the first eight of the third quarter to reclaim a one-point lead.

And the third stayed close, neither team leading by more than three for the majority of the third. But the Heat closed strong behind Jones and James, who made a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left for a 72-65 Miami lead entering the fourth.

NOTES: With his final point, James passed Larry Bird for No. 8 on the league's all-time playoff scoring list. ... Miami is 61-8 over the last three seasons when making at least 10 3-pointers. ... Charlotte was returning home after the game, taking advantage of the long break before Game 2.