MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James scored 21 points and capped his night by banking in a halfcourt shot, Chris Bosh added 20 points and the Miami Heat snapped a two-game slide by rolling past the New Jersey Nets 108-78 on Tuesday night.
The win came with a cost: Dwyane Wade turned his right ankle late in the first half and did not return, finishing with 13 points. Wade missed six games earlier this season after spraining the same ankle, though the team said he could have returned to this one if needed.
The Heat made 12 of their first 15 shots on the way to a 10th straight home win. James finished 9 for 11, adding nine rebounds and six assists, and the 78 points allowed matched Miami’s season-best.
Deron Williams, who was coming off an NBA season-high 57 points in a win over Charlotte, scored 16 for the Nets. MarShon Brooks scored 12 and Johan Petro added 11 for New Jersey, which lost to the Heat for the ninth straight time.
Miami’s lead was 64-37 at the half, the Heat having shot a season-best 66 percent in the first three quarters.
New Jersey was without Brook Lopez, who’s expected to miss the next three weeks with a sprained right ankle. His replacement, Shelden Williams, went scoreless in 17 minutes.
Miami’s “Big Three” of James, Bosh and Wade combined for 54 points on 24 of 33 shooting. All 12 Heat players either scored or logged double-figure minutes and even little-used center Eddy Curry got into the act, getting into his 10th game of the season and playing the final 5:59.
Bosh had missed Miami’s last three games while dealing with the death of his grandmother, and had a message written to her on his game sneakers.
“She wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bosh said. “She’d tell me, ‘Go back to work. Work hard.’ She lives on in our minds, so I came back to work.”
With the win, Miami (29-9) pulled within two games of the Chicago Bulls (32-8) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. And the Heat are apparently getting into scoreboard-watching mode, with coach Erik Spoelstra spending part of the team’s shootaround Tuesday morning going over the latest standings and where Miami matches up among the other NBA elite.
Maybe the Heat were inspired. Other than an early five-point deficit, there was little to worry about in this one, other than one misstep from Wade. He turned the ankle shortly before halftime, waved off assistance from Heat trainer Jay Sabol as he walked off the floor, and was replaced in the second-half starting lineup by Shane Battier.
Wade was joking and laughing on the bench with teammates during the second half. The Heat play host to Atlanta on Wednesday night.
Everything was going Miami’s way, even in the first quarter when Dexter Pittman posted up against the Nets’ Kris Humphries to the left of the basket. He turned, shot wildly, watched the ball kiss the top of the backboard and fall softly through the hoop.
Miami led by as many as 27 in the first half, then stretched the lead to 33 in the third quarter and as many as 40 in the fourth.
Norris Cole scored 13 points, Battier added 11 and Pittman finished with 10 for the Heat, who outrebounded New Jersey 43-29.
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