LeBron James apologized to fans Thursday for the Heat’s overall lack of energy and effort in recent games. He said he needed to refocus and “reboot the system.”
He also needed to play the woeful 76ers. That always helps.
James flirted with a triple-double Friday at Wells Fargo Center, and the Heat snapped its three-game losing streak with a 101-86 victory against a Philadelphia team that looked nothing like the vibrant squad that upset the back-to-back defending champs in the second game of the season.
Opponent field-goal percentage was a major talking point for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra leading up to the game after the Heat recently fell to 25th in the league in that category. The 76ers were 2 of 20 from three-point range and shot 36.9 percent overall. James finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.
The Heat (28-11) forced 23 turnovers.
“It was great to see our energy level up from the beginning,” James said. “We can’t be nobody else. We got to be us, and being disruptive is what got us to this point, and we’ve got to continue to do that.”
Dwyane Wade turned 32 on Friday, but a game on his birthday didn’t translate into one of his normal All-Star-level performances. He had three fouls and two points in the first half, and finished with eight points on six shots.
“It is what it is,” Wade said. “I came in in the third and had a couple opportunities to try to get close to the basket and get my rhythm going and once I got back in, LeBron kind of had the hot hand. So, you stay out of his way and let him do what he does.”
Afterward, Wade ruled himself out for Saturday’s game against the Bobcats.
“I’m going to go ahead and get that out of the way,” Wade joked.
Wade’s off night on his birthday not withstanding, the Heat had little trouble with the Sixers. Miami led 58-41 at halftime after holding the Sixers to 31.1-percent shooting and 1 of 13 from three-point range. James went 4 of 7 from the field in the fourth quarter for 10 points, and the Heat led by double digits throughout the final period.
Miami shot 47.5 percent overall despite going 8 of 23 from three-point range. Ray Allen was 1 of 7 from the field and 0 of 4 from three-point range for two points in 24 minutes.
Michael Beasley was once again an afterthought. He entered in the final three minutes of the game as part of the Heat’s trash-time lineup. Beasley last scored in double figures on Jan. 5.
“The most important thing was our core values, our standards, that we’re playing for each other,” Spoelstra said. “The intensity and the focus of how you’re playing out there is a reflection of how you feel about your teammate.”
Mario Chalmers had a productive overall game in his return from injury. He finished with 10 points, five assists and three rebounds, and was active defensively throughout the game. More importantly, the Heat found its form with Chalmers back in the lineup. The team had 30 assists on 38 field goals.
“[Chalmers] played fantastic,” Chris Bosh said. “He did a great job finding guys, and he’s a good point guard. He’s a championship-level point guard and a huge part of this team, and when he’s playing well and knocking down shots and making plays we’re an even better team.”
Chalmers missed four games in a row with pain in his Achilles tendon, and the Heat went 1-3 during that stretch.
“It was good to be back out there with my teammates and doing something I love,” Chalmers said. “It’s just about having a connection with the guys, and I pretty much know where everybody likes to get the ball.”
Bosh led the Heat in scoring for the second game in a row. He finished with 25 points, going 11 of 18 from the field and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line. He also had six rebounds and blocked five shots. The Heat blocked 12 shots overall, a season high.
“It was contagious out there, and I just wanted to be one of the guys that kept it going,” Bosh said. “When our guards are up and into the ball and we have active hands like we did [Friday night] and getting deflections, it’s difficult to play against us. And I just wanted to be there to protect the rim.”