Could James establish the perfect rhythm he exhibited in Orlando? He started strongly, but then had to take a seat when he picked up a third foul midway through the second quarter. James had to work harder for his shots against a more physical Charlotte defense, but made plenty of plays for the likes of Eddie House and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
For a guy who suffered a lower back contusion less than 24 hours earlier, Wade moved extremely well. He was the Heat's most active participant in the offense en route to a triple-double, working off the dribble, making sharp baseline cuts and darting around curls. Although Stephen Jackson challenged him defensively, Wade was his typically vigilant self as a help defender.
Bosh couldn't buy a jumper from his favorite spot at the elbow, and is now officially mired in a midrange shooting slump. He tried to get things going in the basket area and picked up a few buckets underneath -- especially late -- but was generally out of synch. On the other end, Boris Diaw was able to outmaneuver Bosh as a playmaker and on the glass.
Six weeks ago, Mike Miller and Eddie House were afterthoughts, even as Miami ripped off 21 wins in 22 games. On Friday, they provided the firepower the Heat needed off the bench. Miller didn't miss a shot and finished with 13 points. Meanwhile, House (16 points) nailed three triples to start the fourth quarter and give the Heat their first double-digit lead.
The speedier tempo encouraged by Paul Silas has unleashed the Bobcats' athleticism. Not only are they infinitely more fun to watch, but they're a more difficult team to guard. But the Cats are still prone to costly mental errors, ill-advised early shots and needless fouls.