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Heat 101, Bobcats 97

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Miami Heat defense, LeBron James' 32 put Charlotte Bobcats in 2-0 hole

MIAMI The Charlotte Bobcats proved Wednesday they won’t be pushovers to the Miami Heat. Now will they get past the “feisty” and “scrappy” descriptions to actually win a game?

That question hung over a 101-97 loss in Game 2 of this best-of-seven series. The Bobcats overcame a horrible first half and had a potentially game-tying possession with just over 10 seconds left.

That’s when Miami’s aggressive defense blew up a Bobcats play. Gary Neal turned down a closely-guarded 3-pointer, electing to throw the ball to Chris Douglas-Roberts. He got trapped in the corner, committed Bobcats turnover No. 15, and effectively ended the Bobcats’ threat.

That a turnover would be the Bobcats’ demise was illustrative of both these games: They keep throwing away the ball in ways they can’t afford.

“We were terrible at taking care of the ball in the first half. We were lucky to be in the game (down 10 points) at halftime,” said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford.

The Bobcats committed 12 first-half turnovers – equivalent to their full-game average in the regular season – resulting in 18 Miami points. They cleaned that up in the second half, committing three.

Still, the margin for error is so small versus the defending-champion Heat, this can’t keep happening.

“Even though the score was close at the end, we all feel we could have played better,” said point guard Kemba Walker (16 points and eight assists), who hit a big 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left to cut what had once been a 16-point Miami lead to one.

“I think we’re still really confident. But we have to learn from our mistakes. Try to dissect these guys as well as we can. I believe we have a chance.”

Next game is Saturday at home (7 p.m., ESPN and SportSouth). Game 4 is Monday night. The Bobcats have now lost 18 in a row to the Heat, including every game since LeBron James (32 points, eight assists and eight rebounds) and Chris Bosh (20 points and 5 rebounds) signed with Miami in the summer of 2010.

The Bobcats got a terrific game from small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a courageous one from center Al Jefferson.

Kidd-Gilchrist played just 15 minutes in Game 1 due to foul trouble while guarding James. He rectified that, playing 34 minutes Wednesday and finishing with 10 rebounds and a season-high 22 points. Kidd-Gilchrist, not known for his offense, made 9 of 13 from the field.

“The best game he’s played as a pro,” said Clifford. “He set a standard defensively and played all-around good.”

Kidd-Gilchrist appreciated the praise, but he wasn’t thinking about his individual accomplishment.

“I was locked in today,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “But it’s not about me – we lost and that’s that.”

Jefferson played with a plantar fascia injury first suffered in the first quarter of Game 1. Jefferson had to leave this game in the first half after, in his words, “I felt it rip all the way through.”

Jefferson continued, “It came up midway through my foot and it was just pain. Doctor said there was nothing more I can do to hurt it, so I just had to play through it.”

That he did, finishing the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Jefferson can’t create the same leverage he usually does to score in the post, but the Bobcats can still run offense through him.

“He’s not anywhere close to 100 percent, but we can still play through him,” Clifford said. “He has no mobility basically, but he still had 18 and 13.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
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