MIAMI: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 50 points on Sunday (Monday in Manila) to lead two-time defending NBA champions Miami to a 99-88 victory over Charlotte in their post-season opener.
James made four of the Heat’s 11 three-pointers and finished with 27 points and nine rebounds as the Heat seized the advantage in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.
Wade added 23 points and five assists for the Heat, who are trying to become the first club to win three straight NBA titles since the Los Angeles Lakers did it 2000, 2001 and 2002.
While the Heat are in familiar territory, the Washington Wizards were playing their first playoff game since 2008 on Sunday in Chicago—where they came away with a 102-93 game-one win over the Bulls.
Washington’s Brazilian big man Nene scored 24 points for the Wizards, who out-played the Bulls down the stretch.
Trevor Ariza had 18 points and John Wall added 16 for the Wizards, who out-scored the bulls 30-18 in the fourth quarter.
After the Wizards got off to a fast start, the Bulls rallied to lead by six at halftime.
Chicago scored 10 of the first 13 points of the third to take a 13-point lead, but Washington had trimmed the deficit to three points going into the final period.
Chicago’s Joakim Noah, a front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year honors, struggled to contain Nene.
Noah added that he thought the Bulls “got careless” with their 13-point lead in the third.
In Miami, the star-studded Heat endured some rough patches, perhaps not unexpected after they finished out the regular-season with three straight defeats and conceded the top seed in the East to Indiana.
Part of the reason was coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to rest James and Chris Bosh for the last two games, and Wade missed time late in the season as well.
“It felt like we hadn’t played in two weeks,” James said. “For me, it was a week. It felt like we hadn’t been out there for a long time. We didn’t have any rhythm at the start.”