CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A night after LeBron James scored 51 points, it was Dwyane Wade's turn to dazzle with his first triple-double in more than five years.
Look out, the Miami Heat are clicking again.
Wade had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, shaking off the effects of a sore back, and the Heat closed out an impressive two-day stretch by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 109-97 on Friday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
Wade wasn't sure he'd play up until about an hour before tip-off after getting hurt a night earlier in Orlando, but he logged 40 minutes and led an efficient offense that shot 55 percent from the field.
It was Wade's fourth career triple-double, but his first since Jan. 13, 2006, at Seattle.
``I kind of stopped caring about getting triple-doubles. I used to try and I wasn't succeeding,' Wade said. ``I've got to be leading the league in close-to-triple-doubles. It feels good to finally get one after five years off.'
As Wade spoke, James kidded him that he shoots too much to collect triple-doubles. James has three of them this season, and nearly collected a fourth with 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists against the Bobcats.
Yes, after losing five of six amid injuries and inconsistent play, the Heat are getting healthy, putting up gaudy numbers and collecting victories again with their biggest stars leading the way.
``Just the fact that they're sharing and scoring and rebounding and playing defense all at the same time, it shows how versatile they are,' said Miami's Chris Bosh, who had 14 points.
The Heat even showed some depth.
Former Bobcats guard Eddie House scored 16 points and hit three consecutive 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter when the Heat took control. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who played just 4 minutes against the Magic, scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in 18 minutes. Mike Miller added 13 points.
``Offensively, we're starting to enter a new horizon where we're executing much better,' coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The Bobcats have a long way to go to reach that point.
Gerald Wallace broke out of his scoring slump with 25 points and Stephen Jackson also scored 25 for Charlotte, which ran out of steam late in its first game following a 4-2 road trip.
The Bobcats unraveled after James wasn't called for a foul for pushing Jackson to the floor. The possession ended with one of House's decisive 3s as Miami built a 92-80 lead.
Charlotte got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
``We have to play hard but play with our heads,' Bobcats coach Paul Silas said. ``That was the thing that really wasn't there, especially going into the fourth quarter.'
Charlotte failed to capitalize on what it felt was its biggest edge: Point guard. D.J. Augustin was held to four points on 1-of-6 shooting and had five of Charlotte's 16 turnovers.
The Bobcats shot 47 percent, but made just 7 of 20 field goals in the fourth quarter after their impressive road trip left them in the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. And now they're in a difficult stretch - the Bobcats host Dallas on Saturday and Boston on Monday
``We'll see what we're about,' Silas said.
A night after his ninth career 50-point game, James got into early foul trouble and watched as Wade took control of Miami's offense with a versatile performance despite being in pain.
Wade, who took a hard fall from a foul on Dwight Howard on Thursday, arrived on the early bus, spent extensive time warming up and getting treatment before declaring himself fit to go.
``Did I feel it? Yes, at different times it tightened up,' said Wade who shot 8 for 20. ``At certain times getting pushed at the back or getting hit a certain way. ... It wasn't ideal, but I just wanted to come in and do what I can to help us get this victory. That's what I told the guys before the game.'
Wade was active all game. He had to be separated from Jackson after the Bobcats guard was called for a flagrant foul on Wade's drive to the hoop in the first half. He had a brief tiff with Wallace in the second half.
Spoelstra also picked up a first-half technical foul, but the Heat still improved to 3-0 against Charlotte this season.
``I think at the end a veteran team with veteran players got things going their way,' Wallace said. ``Some mental mistakes and some lapses on defense turned out to be the game.'
NOTES: Silas, James' first NBA coach in Cleveland, joked at shootaround that James was ``pretty good' against Orlando and added he wouldn't be criticizing him anytime soon. ``The difference is I didn't say what (Orlando GM) Otis Smith said. Let sleeping dogs lie,' Silas said. ... Heat C Erick Dampier, whom the Bobcats traded for this summer only to waive him to clear $13 million from the salary cap, acknowledged he turned down a $2.2 million deal from Charlotte. But he said he ``just wanted to see what else was out there' in hopes of playing for a contender. ... Bobcats F Eduardo Najera (illness) didn't play.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved