It’s still 0-for-LeBron for the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Miami Heat has never lost to the Bobcats since James and center Chris Bosh signed there in the summer of 2010. James made sure that streak reached 18 games Saturday, with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 98-85 playoff victory at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Heat ran its lead up to 26 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter when reserve James Jones hit a corner 3-pointer. Miami entered the fourth quarter leading 86-66, shooting 53 percent from the field. James had 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting through three quarters.
The Bobcats trail this best-of-7 playoff series 0-3. The series resumes Monday at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena. If the Bobcats lose Monday, they will have been swept in each of their playoff appearances. They lost 4-0 to the Orlando Magic in 2010.
Coach Steve Clifford seemed to give up on this game with about 7 1/2 minutes left. By then he was playing four reserves and starting power forward Josh McRoberts.
After a spectacular first quarter, center Al Jefferson (20 points) could do little else for the Bobcats. He scored five points in the second and third quarters, making one of three shots from the field.
The Bobcats trailed 58-46 at halftime, after the Heat finished the second quarter on an 18-4 run. The last of that surge came with three seconds left, when Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson threw a bad pass in the backcourt that was intercepted by James.
James took off toward the basket. Henderson fouled him from behind and James threw up a shot from outside the 3-point line. He made all three free throws, ending the first half with 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field.
Bobcats fans booed James constantly, in apparent reaction to James’ comments that, had this been the 1980s, he would have come up swinging when McRoberts fouled him hard in the final minute of Game 2. The NBA later upgraded McRoberts’ foul to a Flagrant 2 and fined McRoberts $20,000.
The Bobcats started this game exceptionally, shooting 55 percent from the field in the first quarter to lead by as much as seven. Jefferson, playing with a painful left plantar fascia injury, finished the first quarter with 15 points off 7-of-9 shooting and four rebounds.
Things didn’t go as well for Jefferson in the second quarter: In just over six minutes he took two shots, making one, and had no rebounds.
James scored nine points in the second quarter, getting to the foul line seven times.