Chris Bosh has been practicing his three-point shot daily for the past two and a half years. He has hit some big shots from outside for the Heat, especially in the playoffs, but on Sunday he used his soft touch and effortless stroke not as a supplement to the Heat’s offense but as its primary weapon.
Much like it did in Toronto on Friday, the Heat played listlessly for most of the game at AmericanAirlines Arena against the Bobcats before coming to life in the final quarter. It was three consecutive three-pointers by Bosh that put the Heat back in the game in a 99-98 victory for Miami’s 10th consecutive victory.
The Heat (14-3) outscored the Bobcats 38-25 in the fourth quarter to avoid an embarrassing loss at home. For Bosh, the comeback restored a little confidence in his shot after going 7 of 24 from the field in his last three games. Before the dry spell, Bosh was challenging LeBron James as the team’s most efficient shooter.
His work at the arena rarely comes up at home, Bosh said on Sunday, but he had been so displeased with his efforts over the last week that he started voicing his frustrations with family members and friends.
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“It was good therapy,” Bosh joked. “I was just telling my wife and my friends — it was a table discussion. I don’t even think they were talking about it. I just brought it up, ‘You know, sometimes when things are going good…I just have to make sure that I don’t worry about it too much, the last couple games, and keep playing ball.”
Bosh fouled out against the Raptors on Friday with just four points and he hadn’t made a three-pointer until Sunday’s fourth quarter since Nov. 20 at Orlando.
The Heat hasn’t lost to a divisional opponent since April 21, 2012, but that streak was in doubt after Miami scored just 14 points in third quarter. The Heat trailed 73-61 entering the final period and didn’t begin to take things seriously until falling behind by 14 points with 9:14 left in the game.
Michael Beasley started the rally with a five-foot bank shot and the Heat pieced together a 15-4 run that cut the Bobcats’ lead to three points with 4:48 to play. But just as soon as Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer put the Heat right back in the game, the much-improved Bobcats (8-10) stretched their lead back to seven points with 3:31 to play.
That’s when Bosh went on his tear.
Bosh made two free throws before scoring on a dunk to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 89-84. On the Heat’s next possession, he was wide open behind the three-point line and the ball found him. Bosh’s shot hit the rim four times, but it finally dropped to make it a one-possession game.
“Once what we call ‘the shooter’s roll’ went in — he basically sat on the ground for it to go in — he just kept that momentum and it was crucial,” James said.
Bosh swished his next three-pointer and then buried his third with 1:20 left to give the Heat its first lead of the second half.
Bosh missed his fourth three-pointer of the quarter with 48.9 seconds left, which gave the Bobcats a chance to tie the game, but Al Jefferson missed a put-back dunk and Mario Chalmers grabbed the long rebound and raced down the court for a breakaway dunk to put the Heat ahead by four points. Chalmers isn’t one of the Heat’s most prolific dunkers, but James said his vertical skills have been showing up in practice and in warm-ups.
“He used the wave of the crowd, for sure, to get him up there even more, but that was big time,” James said.
James bristled at a question after the game that suggested the Heat waited until the end to put away the Bobcats. The Heat scored just 33 points in the second half against the Raptors on Friday and began the second half on Sunday with 14 points in the first 12 minutes. The Heat shot 52.2 percent overall and held the Bobcats to 26.7 percent (4 of 15) from three-point range.
“I don’t think we did anything bad in the game,” James said. “It’s one of those games when you got to gut it out, and we definitely will take it.”
James aggravated his lower back against the Raptors on Friday and spent Sunday’s pregame receiving treatment. He missed his regularly scheduled locker-room interview with reporters. Still, he led the Heat with 26 points and was 8 of 13 from the field to go along with four assists and five rebounds. He also was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.
“It’s not where I was before the Toronto game, so it’s frustrating, but I’m still able to help our team and as long as I can do that, I’ll be in uniform,” James said. “I’m just trying to do the same things I did and stay on it and get it back to close to 100 percent.”