MIAMI – Though it lacked a lot of style points, the Miami Heat took care of their No. 1 objective.
Next up: A game that may wind up deciding the No. 2 seed.
Chris Bosh scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade returned from injury to score 27 more, and the Heat held off the scrapping Charlotte Bobcats 112-103 on Friday night.
The victory, combined with Boston's 104-88 win over Washington, kept the teams tied for the second spot in the Eastern Conference with identical 55-24 records. They play in Miami on Sunday, with the winner taking a huge step toward securing home-court for the first two playoff rounds.
"Why not go get it?" LeBron James asked.
James added 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Miami, which won for the 12th time in 15 games and swept all four games with Charlotte this season. The Heat will secure the East's No. 2 seed by winning out, and coach Erik Spoelstra vowed Friday his team would not look ahead to Boston — or anyone else — keeping the focus on Charlotte.
Down the stretch, the Bobcats insisted that be the case.
D.J. White's tip-in with 1:29 left got Charlotte within 104-98, even though Miami took a 14-point lead into the fourth and held that same margin with 6 minutes to play.
The "Big 3" took care of providing some breathing room. Wade got the ball at midcourt, threw to Bosh, who then set up James for a basket with 1:09 left that made it a three-possession game again. And James sealed it with 37 seconds left, finding Bosh with a sharply angled pass for a layup to make it 108-100.
Miami moved to 14-0 when it has 25 or more assists. It put up 26 against the Bobcats.
Kwame Brown finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds for Charlotte. Garrett Temple scored 17 points, D.J. White added 13 and Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin each finished with 11 for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats had nine available players, with Stephen Jackson, Tyrus Thomas and Shaun Livingston sidelined with various ailments that may end their seasons.
"We can't score as much without a Jackson, a Tyrus Thomas and those guys," Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. "That's the downside of where we are right now."
Another downside of where the Bobcats were Friday? Wade was playing.
Wade's status wasn't official until about 45 minutes before tip-off because of the deep bruise that he's battled for about a week in his right thigh. The way he came out, it was hard to tell anything was wrong.
He scored 14 points in the first quarter, his third-highest total for an opening period this season, attacking the rim enough to get to the foul line for nine shots in the first 5:53.
When he stopped scoring, James started, getting three field goals in a 75-second span — the last of them a one-handed slam off an inbounds pass from Mario Chalmers, who was officially credited with his first assist of the night exactly 0.7 seconds after checking into the game. Miami was up 31-22, and signs pointed to a quick runaway.
Charlotte had other ideas.
It was a 41-38 game midway through the second quarter, and Miami needed a 10-4 run just to take a double-digit lead — 55-44 — into halftime.
The third quarter turned into a bit of a highlight show at times for the Heat, with Wade throwing a pair of full-court overhand passes to James and Miami running at every opportunity. Brown took exception at one point, leveling Wade with a flagrant-1 foul on a dunk try with 5:35 left in the third.
NOTES: Erick Dampier was introduced as Miami's starter at center, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas actually got the start. ... Queen Latifah was among the celebrities in the building. ... Charlotte became the 11th team to get swept by Miami this season, joining Detroit, Golden State, Houston, the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento and Washington. The Heat could also add Toronto to that list if they win in Canada on Wednesday.