MIAMI — Dwyane Wade scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, LeBron James led all scorers with 23 points and the Miami Heat clinched a playoff spot by beating the Washington Wizards 99-90 on Monday night.
Chris Bosh scored 22 for the Heat, who snapped a three-game slide and moved within one game of Indiana in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Ray Allen added 13 for Miami, which was down one midway through the fourth before Wade sparked a 12-0 run with five points, three assists and a block at the rim. The Heat never trailed again, and avoided their first four-game slide since 2011.
Bradley Beal scored 18 points, Martell Webster added 17 and Drew Gooden scored 15 for the Wizards. Marcin Gortat finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds — 10 of them in the first quarter alone.
John Wall finished with eight assists for Washington.
Wade knocked down a jumper with just under 2 minutes left, putting Miami up 97-87 and sealing the outcome. Wade’s 13 points in the fourth represented his highest-scoring quarter this season, and came with him playing on consecutive days for the first time since Jan. 4 and 5. It was only the third time all season he’s been in for both nights of a back-to-back.
Both teams shot only nine free throws each; James didn’t shoot one for the second straight game, just the second time that’s happened in his career, the first coming in December 2003, early in his rookie season.
James went scoreless for a stretch of nearly 15 minutes in the first half, and still easily led everyone with 19 points by intermission. The entirety of his first-half scoring came in two impressive spurts — three 3-pointers in as many tries over a span of 2:43 early in the game, then 10 straight Heat points in a stretch of 3:23 late in the half.
The Heat shot 54 percent in the first half, the Wizards just 34 percent. But Miami’s lead was just 53-45 at the break and when Washington started making a few more shots, the Heat were put back on the ropes, exactly where they spent most of their time on the futile trip through Houston, San Antonio and Chicago.
Miami’s lead was 12 early in the third before Washington went on a 10-0 run, with Gortat scoring the first eight and Trevor Booker’s jumper getting the Wizards within 59-57. And after Miami rebuilt the lead to seven, Washington took off on another quick burst, this one enough to give the Wizards their first lead since 1-0.
In less than 2 minutes, Washington outscored Miami 11-0, Webster scoring six in 25 seconds. He head-faked James in the air to start what became a four-point play, then had an alley-oop dunk off a Wall pass on the next possession as Washington took a 65-64 lead.
Allen had two 3’s for the Heat late in the third, and it was 73-all entering the fourth.
BOBCATS 105, NUGGETS 98
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Al Jefferson scored 26 points and Kemba Walker added 24 as the Charlotte Bobcats won their seventh straight game at home, defeating the Denver Nuggets 105-98 on Monday night.
Jefferson made 10 of his first 14 field-goal attempts and also had a game-high 12 rebounds. Walker added seven assists for the Bobcats, who also received a big boost from Gary Neal off the bench. Neal made his first six field-goal tries, including three 3-pointers, and ended up with 19 points.
Josh McRoberts added 15 points for Charlotte, including a key 3-pointer with 6:15 left at the shot-clock buzzer to extend Charlotte’s lead to 90-82 after Denver had cut it to five at 87-82.
Ty Lawson scored 24 points to lead the Nuggets. Denver also got 15 points from Kenneth Faried, 16 from Aaron Brooks, and 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds from J.J. Hickson.
Jefferson scored 11 of Charlotte’s first 20 points. He had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter, after which Charlotte led 25-22. But the Bobcats pushed the lead to as many as 12 in the second quarter with Jefferson resting on the bench, as Neal scored nine points.
Faried led a brief comeback by Denver as his inside basket off an inbounds play with 2.5 seconds left in the half cut Charlotte’s lead to 51-45. But Walker and Jefferson hit the first two baskets of the third quarter, however, to push Charlotte’s advantage back to 10 and the home team never trailed.
Denver did pull to within 101-96 in the final minute, but Walker, who made all 12 of his free-throw attempts on the night, hit a pair with 55.6 seconds left and then Jefferson hit a jumper after a defensive stop to seal the Bobcats’ victory.
NOTES: Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said shooting guard Gerald Henderson, who missed Monday’s game and has been out a week with a strained right calf muscle, might attempt running during Tuesday’s practice. He hopes Henderson will be available to resume playing in games soon. Clifford said that likely won’t occur until next week, however. . The Bobcats have 18 home wins, three more than all of last year.MORE IN Sports Wire
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