Whether by design or serendipity, James was the focal point of the Miami offense, picking up several possessions that might have normally been commandeered by Dwyane Wade, who was ailing. It wasn't James' most graceful game, but he generated points and orchestrated the Heat's last stand when the game was in the balance.
Wade shook off the flu to suit up, but clearly wasn't his usual hyperkinetic self and looked winded for much of the night. He didn't finish with authority, missing a slew of open shots at the rim, and was noticeably less buzzy on defense.
The Bobcats lent a whole lot of attention to Bosh. They fronted him in the post, sent quick double-teams when he caught entry passes and rotated promptly when he rolled to the hoop. And those long jumpers that were dropping against Phoenix? Bosh's stroke regressed to the mean on Friday.
The ball has been popping at AmericanAirlines Arena of late during Heat possessions, but not on Friday night. Far too often, the Heat ended up in one-on-one situations off half-hearted pick-and-rolls. They finished the night with only 14 assists on 34 field goals.
The Bobcats overcame a 21-point deficit to surge past the Heat in the fourth quarter, only to falter down the stretch. Charlotte still takes an eternity to get into their sets, but their pick-and-roll defense and swift rotations in the second half gummed up Miami's offense.