Basketball / Sports

James' 37 help Heat cool Suns in Phoenix

PHOENIX -- The Miami Heat have proven this season they can play without Dwyane Wade.

On Tuesday, it was more about a stretch minus LeBron James. With James taking a breather early in the fourth quarter, the lineup kept things afloat long enough to help them capture a 103-97 victory against the Phoenix Suns.

James finished with a game-high 37 points in a game the Heat needed contributions from everyone with Wade missing his 14th game of the season because of a migraine. None of the minutes were bigger than when James went to the sideline with the Heat clinging to a 2-point lead with 9:48 left.

With Chris Bosh being on the only primary scorer on the floor, the Heat increased the lead to 4 in the three minutes James was on the bench. That provided just enough separation for once James returned.

The Heat needed every bit of James' effort to hold off the Suns' effort. Bosh added 21 points and eight rebounds to offset Suns' center Channing Frye. The Heat's backcourt of Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers also buckled down on Phoenix guard Goran Dragic when it counted. It was Bosh who also grabbed a key offensive rebound with Miami holding a 3-point lead.

The possession ended with James hitting a tough jump shot from the corner to make it 94-89 with 2:05 left. That was followed by consecutive steals by James, with the last ending with a dunk over Dragic and putting the Heat up 7. The basket sent many of the fans at U.S. Airways Center toward the exits. Even after Gerald Green hit a 3-pointer to provide the Suns hope, Bosh answered with a three to put things away.

The victory helped the Heat move past Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz, setting them up for Wednesday's rematch with the Golden State Warriors in the final game before the All-Star Break. The Heat lost when the teams met in Miami on Jan. 2.

In the beginning, it appeared the Heat were still reeling from the Utah loss. Despite holding an encouraging practice earlier in the week, they fell behind 12-0 in the first quarter. The Heat missed their first five shots and committed two turnovers before Toney Douglas scored their first points, a 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 9 seconds remaining.

Douglas was making his first start since Jan. 28, 2012, when he was playing for the Houston Rockets. He replaced Wade, who watched the game from the team hotel. That also led to the Heat having to extend the rotation, with forward Rashard Lewis playing 10 minutes.

With the Heat growing more comfortable playing without Wade, they eventually recovered. James scored six of the final eight points of the first quarter to pull Miami to within three. The Heat then grabbed their first lead, 33-32, on James' driving layup with 6:11 left.

The Heat looked as if they were about to create separation midway through the third quarter. A day after James made headlines for a post-practice dunk session, he quieted the crowd with consecutive breakaway slams.

The last jam put the Heat ahead 62-55. They had a chance to extend the lead to double-figures, but guard Chalmers missed an open 3-pointer from the corner. That served as the opening for the Suns to stop the rally.

Phoenix went on a 15-5 run over the next five minutes, capping it with a dunk by Green.

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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