LeBron James made two free throws with seconds remaining in the second quarter, and for all intents and purposes, it seemed time for halftime. The Heat, after going back and forth with the Bobcats, had developed a small lead, and LeBron’s charity shots would have ended the half on a high note.
But LeBron wasn’t done.
He stole a pass, drew a foul on a 3-pointer and then made all three free throws.
LeBron scored five points in the final 3.3 seconds of the first half, sending Miami to a 98-85 win over Charlotte in Game 3 Saturday. The Heat are now within one game of their first series sweep of a team with a winning record in the Big Three era.
Consider LeBron turned up.
He finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Even between his second set of half-ending free throws, he was shouting instructions for his teammates for the final 0.2 seconds.
For the most part, his teammates did only an OK job of keeping up with his demands.
The Heat ended the first half on a 16-4 run, the final nine points coming from LeBron, and they made the first two shots of the second half to push their lead to 16 points. Miami led comfortably from there.
But only Dwyane Wade (17 points on 16 shots with six assists) scored double figures – not that anyone else needed to step up in this one.
In the Bobcats’ first home playoff game in four years and just the third in franchise history, Charlotte started with plenty of energy. Al Jefferson (20 points on 13 shots) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (17 points on eight shots) had their moments, but beyond a couple early bursts, the Bobcats couldn’t sustain any momentum. They didn’t make a shot in the in the first half of the third quarter as Miami pulled away.
This was probably Charlotte’s last stand. No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit.
The Heat’s run is just beginning, and LeBron seems intent on inspiring the Heat to ready for it.