Same Old, Same Old for Champs
Heat Wins Debut With James, Wade
Miami — Each of the last two Miami championship runs has been highlighted by moments where a sharpshooter enters a game and immediately provides a surprise spark.
James Jones got his turn Sunday.
And the lift he brought, combined with the expected playoff showings from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, have the Heat off and running in these playoffs.
James scored 27 points, Wade added 23 and the Heat rode two big runs — one late in the first half, the other down the stretch — to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-88 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. Miami trailed for much of the first half, but rallied and has now topped Charlotte 17 straight times.
“We were flat to start,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think our guys were just anxious.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday. Al Jefferson will be getting 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 just 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 can’t 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’s no fan of needles but insisted he doesn’t plan on sitting out.
Gary Neal scored 17 and Josh McRoberts added 15 for Charlotte, which shot only 12 free throws compared to 26 by Miami, and allowed the Heat to turn their 15 turnovers into 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’s 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 1 was secure.
Wizards 103, Bulls 92
Chicago — Nene dominated with 24 points, Trevor Ariza scored 18, and Washington rallied from 13 down to beat Chicago in their playoff opener.
John Wall scored 16 in his postseason debut. Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the fifth-seeded Wizards pulled out the victory even though they looked like they were ready to be blown out.
They cut a 13-point deficit to one in the third and trailed by three going into the fourth, before outscoring Chicago 18-6 over the final six minutes to come out on top in their first playoff appearance since 2008.
Game 2 is Tuesday.
Gortat’s layup started the decisive run, and Trevor Ariza gave the Wizards an 88-87 lead when he hit a pair of free throws with 4:17 remaining. Jimmy Butler tied it for Chicago with one of his own, but a layup by Gortat and basket by Nene made it 92-88, and Washington hung on after Chicago’s Joakim Noah cut it to two on a tip-in with 2:11 left.
Gortat hit two free throws and added a jumper with 34 seconds left to make it a six-point game, and the Wizards took the early lead in the best-of-seven series.
Spurs 90, Mavericks 85
San Antonio — Tim Duncan scored 27 points, and San Antonio held Dallas to one field goal in the final seven minutes to rally for a victory in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
The Mavericks also went scoreless for 5½ minutes during that stretch, their lone field goal coming as time expired.
Tony Parker had 21 points, and Manu Ginobili added 17. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Tiago Splitter pulled down 11 rebounds for top-seeded San Antonio, which has won 10 straight against Dallas.
Devin Harris scored 19 points for the Mavericks, which nearly pulled off a huge upset.