MIAMI – Chris Bosh's struggles during the Miami Heat's recent road trip drove him to initiate soul-searching, postgame conference calls with his wife and close friends.
Actually, they were more like confessionals.
The wife and friends didn't necessarily want to talk about basketball during those long-distance conversations.
But Bosh did.
"Every now and then, you have to get some things off your chest," Bosh recalled of those talks Sunday night after his late spark helped the Heat rally for a 99-98 home victory against the Charlotte Bobcats. "You have to tell yourself why you're not crazy. It works for me. It was good therapy.”
Bosh went out Sunday and had the kind of game that likely changed the tone of those private discussions. He scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter -- nine of them coming on three consecutive 3-pointers from the top of the key -- as the Heat overcame a 14-point deficit in the final period.
Often the overlooked man among the Heat's high-profile Big Three alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Bosh took center stage down the stretch as Miami pushed the NBA's longest current winning streak to 10 games. The two-time defending champion Heat (14-3) are also off to the best start in franchise history through 17 games.
But it's hardly been a smooth and easy ride so far. In many ways, Bosh is 6-foot-11 microcosm of his team.
Up one moment.
Down the next.
And just when it appears they're done, they dominate.
Much like the Heat, Bosh has played in waves and flurries this season. There was that three-game stretch in middle of November when he was shot 70.2 percent from the field -- and was at his video-bombing peak as he pranked James and Wade during their on-court television interviews.
And then came the three-game stretch that led into Sunday, when Bosh missed 17 of 24 shots from the field, was constantly in foul trouble and frustrated on the bench as the Heat kept finding a way to win largely in spite of him.
The low point came Friday in Toronto, where Bosh fouled out against his former team in just 20 minutes and scored a season-low four points. The Heat nearly squandered a 20-point lead in the second half, but managed to hold off the Raptors for a 90-83 win as Bosh watched.
Another phone call followed.
The topic was equilibrium -- the art of ebb and flow.
"I don't even think they were even talking about that," Bosh said of forcing the conversation with his wife and friends into the direction he sought. "I was like, ‘Hey, we won the game, but you know ...' Sometimes, when things are going good, it's a balance. I've always said I believe in balance. I just have to make sure I don't worry about it too much, about the last couple of games. Just keep playing.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before Sunday's game his faith in Bosh hadn't wavered, but that Miami also isn't the kind of team that would script several consecutive plays at the start of the game to get a struggling player into rhythm.
"We're not hunting to get people involved," Spoelstra said. "He just has to stay the course with it. Chris will be fine.”
It didn't look that way early. Bosh missed three of his first four shots, and the Heat's defense wasn't doing much to prevent the Bobcats from slicing into the lane. Miami trailed 48-47 at halftime, would fall behind 79-65 with 8:59 left and still faced a five-point deficit with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
Then Bosh got a fortunate bounce that got him going.
Actually, it was four bounces. That's how many times his 3-pointer from the top of the key kissed the rim before the ball fell through the net to pull Miami to within 89-87. That was Bosh's first made 3-pointer in a span of five games.
His second shot from beyond the arc, near the same spot as the first, cut the Bobcats' lead to 91-90 at the 1:54 mark. And the final dagger was delivered 34 seconds later to put the Heat ahead 93-91. Bosh had scored 13 consecutive points for the Heat. And with each shot he nailed, that conversation Bosh had with himself grew more animated.
The Heat didn't draw up any of those plays to get Bosh a shot. But Wade, who had the assist on all three of those shots from beyond the arc, was determined to find Bosh.
"Once that one that hit every part of the arena went in, he was on fire after that," Wade said. "It was good to see him bounce back after a couple of games where he wasn't able to get his offensive flow and have a big night."
James, who led the Heat with 26 points despite playing with a sore back he aggravated Friday in Toronto, was equally appreciative of Bosh carrying the late load.
"It was crucial," James said of Bosh's performance. "It was just one of those games where we had to gut it out.”
But first, Bosh had to talk things out.
With his wife and friends.
Mainly with himself.
"You have to keep yourself solid, man," Bosh said. "It's tough. You play a lot of games. All of them aren't going to be good. It's a balance. Just keep playing ball.”
Eventually, it might just bounce Bosh's way.