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(Monday, April 28th)
Final Score: Miami 109, Charlotte 98
Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The anxiety level down in South Beach was high for several minutes after LeBron James clutched his right leg underneath the basket in the third quarter.
A hobbled James dispatched any worries shortly thereafter.
James had 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and the Miami Heat swept the Charlotte Bobcats with a 109-98 win on Monday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
At 8:43 of the third quarter, James took a knee to his right thigh from 7-foot center Bismack Biyombo as he attempted to back Biyombo down along the left baseline. After losing the ball out of bounds, James hobbled to the Heat bench during a timeout and received treatment on the thigh.
He returned with a vengeance, scoring the first seven points in a 12-4 Heat run that staked them to a seven-point advantage.
Miami was never seriously threatened again, earning its second first-round sweep in a row. The Heat moved to 16-2 in first-round series games during the "Big Three" era.
James netted 19 points after the injury.
"I'm fortunate we were able to close out tonight and I can give it a little rest," James said of the injury.
Chris Bosh had 17 points and eight rebounds and Dwyane Wade scored 15 for second-seeded Miami, which will face either Toronto or Brooklyn in the next round. That set is tied 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for Wednesday in Toronto.
Biyombo started for Al Jefferson, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, who sat out due to a lingering foot injury. He strained the plantar fascia in his left foot in the first quarter of Game 1 and didn't participate in Monday's shootaround.
"If you take away the best offensive player from any team in the league it dramatically changes your team," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said of Jefferson.
Kemba Walker tallied 29 points, five assists and five rebounds for the Bobcats, who remained the only current NBA franchise without a playoff win.
The Bobcats will become the Hornets next season.
Charlotte led 62-61 in a back-and-forth tussle where neither team led by more than five prior to James going down. When he came back in, James and Walker knocked down 3-pointers before James hit a long left wing jumper with the shot clock running down.
His steal and layup preceded a James Jones triple, which capped the surge and gave Miami a 73-66 cushion with 4:54 to go in the third. Norris Cole's left corner trey with less than a second left in the period increased the advantage to 84-71.
James had nine points and six assists in the third.
Charlotte never got the deficit below seven in the fourth.
Earlier, Walker put in 10 first-quarter points as the Bobcats took their third first-quarter lead in the series, 27-26. Charlotte held a 54-52 edge at the break.
Prior to the game, the Heat players showed unity with the Los Angeles Clippers players over the Donald Sterling controversy.
Like the Clippers did Sunday, Heat players disposed of their white warmup T- shirts at center court and turned their red warmup jerseys inside out, hiding the logo during their pregame routine.
Miami scored 22 points off 16 Charlotte turnovers ... The Heat swept the Milwaukee Bucks last season and have won nine straight series ... There were 17 lead changes and 15 ties in the game.
04/29 00:34:24 ET