Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for an efficient 50 points and the Miami Heat pulled away from the pesky Charlotte Bobcats for a 99-88 victory on Sunday in the opener of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
James made four of Miami's 11 3-pointers and finished with 27 points and nine rebounds while Wade added 23 points and five assists for the two-time defending champs.
The duo shot 18-of-32 (56.3 percent) from the field, and Miami received key contributions off the bench from James Jones and Chris Andersen, with Jones chipping in 12 points and Andersen adding eight points and 10 rebounds while limiting Al Jefferson on the defensive side.
"Besides starting off slow in the first and second quarters I thought we played a pretty good game," Wade said. "Now we're going to go look at adjustments we can make and figure out how we can be better in Game 2."
Jefferson, Charlotte's most consistent offensive threat in the regular season, started strong but was hobbled after suffering a strain to his left plantar fascia in the first quarter.
"When it first happened I was in a lot of pain, but as the game went on it eased up," Jefferson said, adding he received a shot at halftime but would be fine for the remainder of the playoffs. "It's just something I have to play through."
He still logged 18 points and 10 rebounds while Kemba Walker's 20-point effort led the club.
The Bobcats are playing in the postseason for just the second time in their 10-year existence, and their reward for earning the No. 7 seed was a meeting with the second-seeded Heat, a team they have dropped 16 consecutive regular season meetings against.
They hung tough Sunday as they opened the third quarter with 10 straight points and held a lead with seven minutes remaining in the quarter.
The score was even, 59-59, before James hit from behind the arc late in the frame, and the four-time league MVP beat the buzzer with another 3-pointer to send the Heat into the fourth with a 72-65 advantage.
The Heat pulled away for good early in the final stanza, as Jones and Wade each connected from long range during a 13-1 surge that extended Miami's lead to 87-70 lead under 6 1/2 minutes to play.
The closest Charlotte got down the stretch was the final score.
The Bobcats will look even the best-of-seven series in Game 2 on Wednesday.
Jefferson made his first four shots from the floor and led the Bobcats to a 21-12 lead just over nine minutes in, but the power forward limped to the locker room with the troublesome foot injury.
When Jefferson returned three minutes into the second quarter, the Heat got back to their old selves as well, ripping off 12 consecutive points to turn a 34-28 deficit into a six-point lead. Chris Bosh scored five of his 13 points during the stretch, and Miami stretched its lead to double digits, 47-36, on two Jones free throws inside the final minute.
Walker, 1-for-5 from the floor to start, saw to it that the Bobcats did not go quietly. The third-year guard beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer and fueled a 10-0 run to begin the second half, which ended with Michael Kidd- Gilchrist throwing down a Jefferson miss for a 52-49 Bobcats lead.
Heat guard Mario Chalmers suffered a right shin contusion in the first quarter but returned a put up seven points over 25 minutes ... Gary Neal and Josh McRoberts donated 17 and 15 points, respectively, for the Bobcats, who were outscored at the free throw line by an 18-8 margin ... Miami converted 15 turnovers into 20 points, while Charlotte only scored five points on nine Miami giveaways.