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Heat 98, Bobcats 85

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Forward LeBron James scored 30 points, and the Miami Heat rolled over the Charlotte Bobcats 98-85 on Saturday night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

The two-time defending NBA champions took control with a 16-4 run to end the first half for a 58-46 halftime lead, then opened the second half with a 21-7 spurt to push the lead to 79-53. Charlotte made a late run to whittle the final margin down some but never seriously threatened.

James, who scored a career-high 61 points in his last visit to Time Warner Cable Arena in March, was 10-for-18 from the field and nine of 10 from the line. He also had 10 rebounds and six assists.

The Heat also got 17 points from guard Dwyane Wade and 12 from forward Chris Andersen.

Center Al Jefferson led the Bobcats with 20, but scored only five in the final three quarters. Forward Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 17, and guard Kemba Walker and forward Josh McRoberts scored 13 apiece.

The Bobcats led 27-23 after one quarter, thanks to Jefferson’s 15 first-quarter points on seven of nine shooting. They extended the lead to seven points early in the second. But Miami closed the half with a 16-4 run and wound up outscoring the Bobcats 35-19 in the quarter for a 58-46 halftime lead. James scored five points in the final 3.3 seconds of the half, hitting two free throws, then stealing the ball and getting fouled again on a 3-point attempt.

Miami led 86-66 after three quarters.

NOTES: Game 4 will be played Monday night in Charlotte. … This was just the third home playoff game in Bobcats franchise history. … The Heat came into the game having won 18 straight over the Bobcats dating to 2010. … Bobcats F Josh McRoberts was in the lineup after getting fined $20,000 for his Flagrant 2 foul against Miami F LeBron James in the final minute of the Heat’s 101-97 win in Game 2 on Wednesday. … For the second straight game, Bobcats C Al Jefferson got a pregame shot of painkiller for the plantar fascia strain in his left foot. … The Heat attempted 24 more free throws (55-31) than the Bobcats in the first two games. … The Heat are 11-0 all time in playoff series when pulling out to a 2-0 lead. They are the only team in the NBA to open a 2-0 edge this year. … Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is 52-29 in six trips to the playoffs. His .642 playoff winning percentage is the second best in NBA history. … Heat G Mario Chalmers played despite a right shin contusion. … The Bobcats were without C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture left foot) and F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles tendon).

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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