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Heat clamp down defensively, top 76ers for 2-0 series lead

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Associated Press
4/18/2011 10:58:32 PM
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MIAMI -- LeBron James outscored Philadelphia's entire starting five in the first half by himself.

So did Chris Bosh.

So did Dwyane Wade.

And that pretty much tells the tale of a night the 76ers would rather forget.

No comeback required for the Miami Heat this time. They went wire-to-wire on the lead, and moved two wins from advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

James scored 29 points, Bosh had his second straight double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Miami took a 2-0 series lead with a 94-73 victory over the abysmally shooting 76ers -- who managed their second-lowest playoff scoring total in the last 56 years -- on Monday night.

"It was a really complete game for us at both ends of the floor," James said.

Showing no signs of the migraine that he battled Sunday, Wade scored 14 points for Miami, now 17-3 in its last 20 games and halfway to winning its first playoff series since the 2006 NBA finals.

"I'm feeling a lot better," said Wade, who wasn't able to eat Sunday and was very low-energy at times before Monday's game. "I lost a lot of weight tonight ... but I think I did my job, to come out there and help my team get a win."

Thaddeus Young scored 18 points and Evan Turner added 15 for the 76ers, whose starters were outscored 76-29 by the Heat's first-string. Philadelphia shot 34 per cent for the game, and after getting 42 points in the paint in Game 1, were held to 24 in that department Monday.

"We've had good defensive performances," Bosh said, "but I think today was our best of the season."

The 76ers find themselves needing to buck some serious history. Miami has never lost a series after winning the first two games (6-0), and the Philadelphia franchise is winless in 16 tries after falling into an 0-2 post-season hole. And then there's this -- only 14 teams have won after losing the first two games of a best-of-seven NBA series.

"If they're playing great, they're a better team," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "OK? If they're playing on top of their game, they're a better team. I mean, they won 58, we won 41. That doesn't mean that we aren't going to play and compete and fight. But when they come out tonight and defend the way they did ... it's going to be very difficult for us to beat them."

It was Philadelphia's second-lowest playoff point total since 1955, the only exception coming in a 79-68 loss to Orlando in 1999. And the 76ers won that series.

Philadelphia made 15 of its first 24 shots in Game 1, a 63 per cent clip. Since then: 47 of 140, 34 per cent.

"You've got to give them credit," said Sixers guard Andre Iguodala, who has nine points on 4-for-15 shooting in the series.

Wade played 34 minutes, despite spending Sunday bedridden in a darkened room fighting off a migraine that he likened to a "nightmare." He had no outward ill effects, shooting 4 for 11 with six rebounds.

Instead, it's the 76ers who spent much of Monday looking pained.

"He controlled the game," James said of Wade. "He had two people on him so he just got off the ball and let other guys make things happen and it's good to have him on the court than in a suit."

Game 3 is Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia was within 28-20 midway through the second quarter, but a 21-11 Heat run to end the half took care of that. James had consecutive baskets, the second of them a highlight-quality one-handed dunk off a high alley-oop lob from Mario Chalmers for a 37-23 lead, and Miami was off and running. That play was started by two blocks by Montreal native Joel Anthony, who ignited the Heat defence all night.

"He's awesome," Bosh said.

Philadelphia shot only 26 per cent in the first half, a record for a Heat playoff opponent. The 76ers' starters were outscored 41-9 in the opening 24 minutes, and unlike their last two meetings, never put a scare into Miami. Philadelphia had a 16-point lead in the teams' final regular-season matchup, a 14-point lead in Game 1, but simply couldn't get rolling Monday.

The 76ers didn't even have a starter reach double figures until 3:49 remained in the third quarter, when Jrue Holiday made a three-pointer to get to 10 points. By then, James had 23, Bosh had 15 and Wade 12 -- and the Heat led 68-50.

The margin kept growing from there, all the way to 28 at one point. A clearly frustrated Collins got a technical with 1:56 left and the game decided, the Heat holding a 91-67 lead.

"We just have to continue to fight," Sixers guard Lou Williams said. "Obviously we're dealing with a team that has a lot of guys that can score the basketball. ... They did what they were supposed to do, which was come out and defend the home court for two games and send us back to Philly with a sour taste in our mouths."

It was over fairly early. James said he wanted to be more aggressive in Game 2 than he was in the series opener, and apparently that message got to all corners of the Heat locker room.

The lead was 49-31 by halftime and 75-52 after the third quarter, in which Philadelphia shot only 33 per cent but raised its percentage for the game to 28.

"Our energy tonight was much better," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, "from beginning to end."

NOTES: James has won 13 straight times when facing Philadelphia, the last loss coming Dec. 15, 2007, when he was with Cleveland. ... Wade sent out a Tweet in the afternoon, thanking fans for the support as he dealt with the migraines. ... The 76ers are 0-5 against the Heat this season.

Dwyane Wade (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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