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Playoff basketball returns to Charlotte when Bobcats host Heat

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Charlotte Bobcats will host their third playoff game in history Saturday night when they try to get back into their series with the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

The Bobcats hosted two postseason games in their only playoff appearance back in 2010. That year, Charlotte was swept by the Orlando Magic and the Bobcats are in danger of the past reoccurring.

Miami built a 2-0 lead and Charlotte superstar Al Jefferson is ailing. He tore his plantar fascia in his left foot and had to leave Wednesday's Game 2 in the first quarter for more treatment.

Jefferson gutted out 18 points and 13 rebounds, but shot 9-for-23 from the floor. He played an unbelievable 40 minutes essentially on one leg.

"(I was in) a lot of pain, but it was mind over matter," said Jefferson. "I just missed a lot of shots I should have made, but we still had a chance to win at the end."

The Bobcats nearly overcame a 16-point deficit to fall, 101-97, at American Airlines Arena.

LeBron James led the Heat with 32 points, followed by 20 from Chris Bosh and 15 out of Dwyane Wade. South Beach's Big Three combined for 19 of Miami's 22 fourth-quarter points.

However, James was not completely satisfied.

"We have to play better going into their building," said James. "They're going to be very excited having a playoff game in their building. It's been a few years, but we look forward to the challenge."

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led Charlotte with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Kemba Walker added 16 and Gerald Henderson chipped in 15.

The Bobcats clawed their way back into the game after falling down double figures.

After Jefferson's one-handed bucket in the paint got the Bobcats within three points with 1:42 remaining, James went hard to the basket at the other end and was knocked down by Josh McRoberts, who drew only a personal foul. (He was fined $20,000 by the league.)

James took time getting up off the floor and made only one of the two foul shots. Walker scored the last of his 16 points on a 3 from the top of the arc at the other end, drawing Charlotte within 98-97 with 11.9 seconds left.

But two free throws from James gave Miami some cushion before Wade, after defending Gary Neal tight near the 3-point line to deny him a shot, rotated over to steal the ball from Chris Douglas-Roberts.

The Heat have beaten the Bobcats 18 straight times including the two wins in this series. Miami has won seven in a row in Charlotte.

Game 4 will be Monday night in Charlotte.

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