(Reuters) - LeBron James was at his deadly accurate best and scored 31 points to help the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat shoot down an inspired Charlotte Bobcats 99-94 on Monday.
James made 13 of his 14 field goal attempts and added eight assists and eight rebounds as he flirted with a triple double in a red-hot display that allowed the Heat to prevail in a surprisingly competitive test against the struggling Bobcats.
“I knew how important this game was, just as important as any game on our road trip,” James told reporters after the Heat had played their 10th game in the last 12 away from home.
“For me as a leader, I cannot ever have a night off.”
Miami were never able to build a double-digit lead against the visitors and were ahead just 89-87 in the final minute and a half before a 6-0 run by their three All Stars put the game away.
Dwyane Wade finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat (31-14) while Chris Bosh added 23 points.
Ramon Sessions had 18 to lead six double-figure scorers for the Bobcats (11-36), who lost their fourth straight.
On Saturday, Charlotte’s rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had to leave the game on a stretcher after sustaining a concussion in a big collision.
In his absence, the Bobcats played with passion but they could not keep James out of the paint as Miami’s leader never attempted a shot outside of 15 feet.
“At some point, you realise, boy, he’s getting to the rim a lot,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “He has a great feel and read for each game.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Nick Mulvenney