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Miami takes series

Miami forward LeBron James (6) shoots the ball during the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday at Time Warner Cable Arena. USA Today Sports photo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Forward LeBron James scored 31 points and four of his teammates scored in double figures as the Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Bobcats 109-98 on Monday night to complete a four-game sweep of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Heat trailed at halftime but outscored the Bobcats 32-17 in the third quarter, closing the period with an 11-2 run. They never let the Bobcats get closer than seven in the fourth quarter.

It was the Heat’s 20th straight win over the Bobcats in the last four seasons, and it completed an 8-0 sweep this season.

The Heat, seeded second in the East, advance to take on the winner of the Toronto-Brooklyn series in the conference semifinals.

James was kneed in the thigh during a collision in the third quarter, but shrugged off the injury and finished 10 of 19 from the field and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line. He also had eight assists and six rebounds.

The Heat also got 17 points from center Chris Bosh, 13 each from guards Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole, and 10 from guard Mario Chalmers.

Hawks 107, Pacers 97

Shelvin Mack scored 20 points off the bench as visiting Atlanta grabbed a huge lead and held off a late charge to grab a 3-2 lead over Indiana in the first-round Eastern Conference series.

Mike Scott scored all 17 of his points off the bench in the second quarter and Paul Millsap collected 18 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks, who can close out the series when they host Game 6 on Thursday. Kyle Korver added 16 points and DeMarre Carroll contributed 15 points as No. 8 seed Atlanta went 15-of-27 from 3-point range.

Paul George had 26 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and six steals for the top-seeded Pacers. David West, George Hill and Lance Stephenson each added 16 points for Indiana, which trailed by 30 points in the third quarter.

Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 3

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Center Evgeni Malkin recorded his second career playoff hat trick, and the Pittsburgh Penguins held on for a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday in Nationwide Arena, clinching the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

The Penguins, who advanced in six games, next will meet the winner of the ongoing series between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers lead the Flyers three games to two.

Pittsburgh scored twice in each of the first two periods to build a 4-0 lead, then survived Columbus’ three-goal, third-period surge.

Malkin went scoreless in nine consecutive playoffs games — dating back to a four-game sweep by the Boston Bruins last spring — before busting out Monday.

He posted the 13th playoff hat trick in Penguins history. Only Mario Lemieux, now the Penguins’ owner, has more postseason hat tricks than Malkin. Lemieux recorded three in his Hall of Fame career.

Center Brandon Sutter also scored for the Penguins, while goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had finished with 24 saves.

The Blue Jackets seemed overwhelmed in the first two periods, but they responded — out of nowhere — with a mighty finish.

Defenseman Fedor Tyutin, center Artem Anisimov and left winger Nick Foligno scored in a five-minute span late in the third period, pulling the Blue Jackets within 4-3 with 4:47 remaining.

Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves but was under constant duress in the early part of the game before the Penguins eased off.

Malkin scored at 9:11 of the first period, taking a pass from left wing Chris Kunitz and putting in a shot from the doorstep.

He made it 2-0 at 13:13 of the first when he scored on a wrister from the slot on the power play.

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