Despite an impressive second-half comeback that trimmed a 19-point deficit to two, the Charlotte Bobcats fell to the Miami Heat on Wednesday 105-92 at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Bobcats lost their 16th straight, falling to 7-21. The Heat improved to 20-6. Kemba Walker had 28 points for the Bobcats. Ramon Sessions added 19 and new starter Hakim Warrick finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Dwyane Wade finished with 29 points and LeBron James had a near-triple double of 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
The Bobcats scored 33 points in the third quarter to make it a game, trailing the Heat 78-71 entering the fourth. Walker supplied nine of those points, making three of six attempts.
The Bobcats trailed 55-38 at halftime and stayed that close only because point guards Ramon Sessions and Walker (a combined 27 first-half points) attacked the basket relentlessly.
Sessions recognized a mismatch when the Heat tried to guard him with slow-footed Mike Miller, so he kept isolating Miller by driving to the rim or getting fouled. But despite Sessions solid play Well as Sessions played (six of seven from the field in the first half for 13 points), the Bobcats had no real compensation for what the Heat did at the other end.
The defending champions relentlessly attacked the rim and scored 32 of their 55 first-half points in the lane, exploiting an obvious Bobcats weakness. In their last game of a four-game West Coast trip, the Bobcats gave up an absurd 78 points in the paint to the Denver Nuggets.
Four of James first five baskets were dunks or layups. He finished the first half with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists, looking every bit the reigning Most Valuable Player.
But James wasnt perfect. Kemba Walker drew a charge on him in the first quarter and James was called for a palming violation in the second quarter. Still, James did plenty, making six of 12 shots and picking up two fouls on Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Foul trouble was inevitable for the Bobcats. Gerald Henderson, often guarding Dwyane Wade (11 first-half points), committed three before halftime, and center Bismack Biyombo committed two, matched against versatile Miami big man Chris Bosh.
With power forward Byron Mullens out with a severe ankle sprain (he might miss weeks), Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap started Hakim Warrick at the position. Henderson, who missed the Nuggets game with a bruised shin, started versus the Heat. The Bobcats were again without Ben Gordon, who has missed the past three games with a sore right knee.
Dunlap chose to use Gana Diop in relief of Biyombo at center in the first half, over Brendan Haywood.