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Heat 124, Bobcats 107

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MIAMI — The Miami Heat, led by a franchise record 61 points from forward LeBron James, extended their winning streak to eight games, defeating the Charlotte Bobcats 124-107 on Monday night at American Airlines Arena.

James made 22 of 33 shots from the floor, including eight of 10 on 3-pointers, and added seven rebounds and five assists.

He broke the Heat scoring record of 56 points, which was set by forward Glen Rice 19 years ago.

James, who also broke his previous career high of 56 points, set the new Heat record on a spin move to his left, banking the shot in with 5:30 left in the game.

He exited the game with 1:24 remaining, but not before he also tied his career high for made 3-pointers. He entered the game shooting 36.4 percent on 3-pointers. He also entered third in the league in scoring (26.9).

The Bobcats also gave up 62 points to New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, which is the only higher-scoring game in the NBA this season.

James overshadowed Bobcats center Al Jefferson, who was outstanding with 38 points and 19 rebounds. Jefferson had 26 of those points in the first half.

The Heat won without shooting guard Dwyane Wade, who rested his aching knees.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade suffered no setbacks, and the guard is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday when Miami travels to play the Houston Rockets.

The Heat (43-14) are 24-4 at home and trail the Indiana Pacers by two games in the battle for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Charlotte (27-33) lost its third straight game and fell into a virtual tie for seventh place in the East with the Atlanta Hawks.

Miami already completed a pair of 4-0 season sweeps against Southeast Division rivals Charlotte and Orlando. Elsewhere in the division, the Heat are 2-1 against Atlanta and 1-1 vs. Washington.

On Monday, the Bobcats were hot early, making seven of their first eight shots and building a nine-point lead. But the Heat, led by 11 points from James, rallied to finish the first quarter on top 29-26.

The Bobcats outshot the Heat 66.7 percent to 47.8 in the first quarter, thanks in large part to Jefferson, who had 14 points.

Miami extended its lead to 60-54 at halftime. Jefferson (26 points at the half) and James (24) continued their battle, and the Heat outshot the Bobcats in the second quarter, 60 percent to 47.8 percent.

The Heat virtually put the game away in the third quarter, when James scored 25 of Miami’s 38 points. Miami took a 98-79 lead into the fourth quarter, and James had a total of 49 points, six short of the Heat scoring record.

NOTES: With Heat SG Dwyane Wade (knee) missing a game for the 16th time this season, SG Toney Douglas started in his place. It was Douglas’ ninth game with the Heat, his third start. … Bobcats SG Gerald Henderson (calf) sat out a game for the first time this season. He is averaging 14.6 points, his third straight season scoring at least 14 per game. … SG Gary Neal, whom the Bobcats acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 20 in a four-player trade, started in place of Henderson. It was Neal’s 28th career start and his first for the Bobcats. “He has a very high basketball IQ,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said of Neal. “I think he can be a good asset for our team.” … If the regular season ended Monday morning, the Heat and Bobcats would have played in the first round of the playoffs. … Up next, the Heat face a challenging three-game road trip: Houston, San Antonio and Chicago. … The Bobcats have a two-game homestand next, playing the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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