Chris Bosh understands he’s not supposed to be the centerpiece. Get enough of the Heat’s key pieces in street clothes, though, and it’s nice to let his versatility rise to the forefront.
Confounding the Orlando Magic with a display of outside accuracy, Bosh scored 14 of his season-high 32 points in the final quarter as the Heat finally shook off its in-state rival 99-92 and kept its record from sinking below .500.
“Some nights I have to take it on myself to shoot some good shots and get us going,” said Bosh, who has emerged from a recent slump with 60 points over his past two games. “We were able to do that and get into a nice rhythm.”
Mario Chalmers, moving to the point with Norris Cole nursing a dislocated finger, also made his mark with 24 points and eight assists.
Bosh and Chalmers combined to score 24 of Miami’s 31 points in the final quarter, breaking away from a 68-67 lead. It was the Heat’s 10th consecutive win in the series, dating back to the spring of 2012.
“It was a team effort and there was a disposition,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There were big plays throughout the course of the game. It was a tough road win, but we’ve got to put it behind us now.”
It was only the first half of a back-to-back, with the Charlotte Hornets visiting AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday night. The Heat (7-6) has lost three in a row on its home court, most recently a 110-93 setback to the Los Angeles Clippers.
“We need to get one at home,” Bosh said. “We owe it to our fans. We need our home play to catch up with our road play right now.”
Saturday night at least brought signs of encouragement, with a lineup lacking both both Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and Cole.
Wade missed his fifth consecutive game, though he might be close to returning. Cole, injured midway through the Clippers loss, saw his streak of 160 consecutive games come to an end — one shy of sharing No.2 on the Heat’s all-time list.
Grant Long made 161 consecutive appearances from 1990 through ’92. Cole hadn’t missed a game since Dec.4, 2012 against the Washington Wizards.
“We’re a little shorthanded right now, but that’s part of basketball,” Bosh said. “I just wanted to come out aggressive, playing within our system. Take some jumpers, but make sure we’re also moving the ball.”
Bosh hit 13 of 20 field-goal attempts on the night, many coming from the 16- and 18-foot range. Four of those were three-pointers, another season best.
“I’m not really used to guarding players like that,” Magic center Nikola Vucevic said. “Usually I’m around the paint trying to help, and with him you can’t really do that. You have to always be close to him.”
Said Bosh: “We wanted to put them in a very confused state with the pops and the slips. … I knew how they were playing and I just wanted to keep switching up on them and not give them the same look.”
It was a stark contrast to what was happening on the other end, where Vucevic also set a season high with 33 points and 11 offensive rebounds (17 total). Nearly all of those came from inside the paint.
“He’s a load, man,” Bosh said. “He’s super skilled and he can use his left or his right hand. His timing on the boards, he never brings it down low. He’s a very talented guy, one of the best rebounders in the league.”
The game remained a see-saw battle well into the fourth quarter, before the Heat finally cobbled together a 14-4 run to create some breathing room at 91-81. Bosh scored nine points, including a three and two other long jumpers, and Chalmers scored the rest.
Orlando (6-9) mounted a comeback with a 9-2 burst near the end, but couldn’t get shots to drop at the end.
Sunday: Hornets at Heat
When/where: 6 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/radio: Sun Sports; 104.3 FM, 790 AM and 710 AM (Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 53-36.
Of note: The Heat has lost three home games in a row, but carries a franchise-best nine-game home winning streak against Charlotte into Sunday’s game. … Dwyane Wade remains out for Miami with a hamstring injury.