March 5, 2013

Miami Heat tames Timberwolves, earns franchise best win streak

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James each had a double-double to lead the Heat to a franchise-record 15th win in a row.

Sports fans in the Twin Cities were dreaming big Monday as the Heat came to town and the Wild left for Chicago to play the red-hot Blackhawks.

Well, maybe the local hockey team will pull off the upset on Tuesday.

Thanks to some sloppy play by the Heat, the Timberwolves kept things close before Miami pulled away to set a franchise record with its 15th consecutive win — this one 97-81 over the Timberwolves.

“Every game is different and this was a tough one mentally that we had to fight through,” said Dwyane Wade, who scored a game-high 32 points.

“We had a lot of turnovers but we were playing well. If we didn’t turn the ball over, we would have played almost a perfect game. We shot the ball well, moved it well.”

The Heat has a few signature wins during this 15-game run — although Minnesota won’t be included in that group. The banged-up Timberwolves have lost six in a row and are 6-24 since New Year’s Day.

Miami, meanwhile, holds a seven-game lead over Indiana for the top seed in the Eastern Conference as the Heat followed up Sunday’s win in New York by easing past Minnesota.

“This was about finding a way to get the win — no matter how,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We were very careless offensively but at the end of the day we got the win. Now, lets get out of here.”

A night after winning in New York, Miami played sloppy at times as its season-high 23 turnovers helped keep the Wolves in the game.

Then in the fourth quarter, it looked as if the neighboring Wild borrowed the Target Center as a hockey game appeared to break out.

It all started when Ray Allen took offense to a hard foul from J.J. Barea and went after the Minnesota guard as players from both sides had to be separated.

Barea was ejected and walked off the floor shouting obscenities at Allen as Minnesota coach Rick Adelman went after the officials. Adelman could be seen yelling “don’t touch me” at one official as Allen headed to the foul line.

“I think it was a play that was uncalled for,” said LeBron James, who had 20 points with 10 rebounds. “Ray doesn’t bother anyone. We’re a veteran ballclub and know how to pick up the tempo and close a game out. I think we did that after that exchange.”

When Adelman finally got the technical foul he was looking for, his mock applause toward the official who teed him up stoked the home crowd even more.

Not long after Adelman’s tech, the Timberwolves were called for consecutive offensive fouls and the Heat opened its lead to 13. This one was over.

Minnesota got within three points after Alexey Shved hit a three-pointer around the 10 minute mark but that was as close as the home team got.

Miami outscored Minnesota 26-13 in the final 10 minutes. Allen’s three-pointer at the three minute mark to give Miami its biggest lead of the night at 18.

“We didn’t play good basketball but got stops when we needed to,” said James, who started Monday’s game despite concern about his left knee, which he tweaked Sunday in New York. “It was a good win. Offensively we’re moving the ball, sharing the ball.”

The Heat, which hoped to escape snowy Minneapolis late Monday night, will try to extend its winning streak Wednesday against Orlando in Miami.

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