LeBron James powers Miami Heat to victory over Magic, 27th consecutive win
LeBron James finished with 24 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds as the Heat cruised to its 27th win in a row.
03/26/2013 12:01 AM
09/23/2013 6:52 PM
The streak was threatened again.
Could have fooled the Heat, which again turned a seemingly precarious situation into a victory in a matter of minutes.
Even with Dwyane Wade sidelined for the second game in a row and LeBron James scoring only six points through 2 1/2 quarters, the Heat’s winning streak hit 27 games Monday night with a 108-94 win against the Magic at Amway Center.
The Heat used a 13-0 run after finding itself tied at 68 with 2:59 left in the third quarter and scored 20 of the game’s next 22 points to pull away for good and move closer to the 1971-72 Lakers’ NBA-record 33-game winning streak and the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
The Heat can clinch the conference’s top record Tuesday if the Knicks lose to the Celtics or by beating the Bulls on Wednesday in Chicago.
The Heat also won its 13th consecutive road game, which is one away from matching its franchise record away from home and three away from matching those same Lakers for the longest road-winning streak in league history (16).
“In professional sports, wins are hard to come by and streaks like this are really rare,” James said. “Our historic run is about winning championships, and that’s what we want to be known for. But it’s a process and whatever comes in between that we can be excited about.”
James went from having six points in the first half to finishing one rebound short of a triple-double with 24 points (9-of-16 shooting), 11 assists and nine rebounds.
The turnaround came as quickly as the Heat seized control of the game.
James delivered emphatic dunks and timely assists to teammates, who hit open three-point shots as the Heat wowed the crowd, which had a large contingent supporting the visitors and chanting “27” as time expired.
“We showed some of our best in that fourth quarter according to our activity level,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who became the fastest coach in team history to reach 250 career wins.
“We’ve had three tough games against them. They’re not afraid over there. We’ll take this win and move on and improve from it.”
The Heat made 15 three-pointers one night after making 13 against the Bobcats. Mario Chalmers made 4 of 5 threes, bouncing back from a 0-for-4 shooting night on Sunday.
Ray Allen went 4 for 6 from three point-range, Norris Cole went 3 for 4, and Rashard Lewis went 3 for 5. Two of Allen’s triples came on assists from James in the fourth quarter.
“The success of my teammates is what motivates me,” James said. “I can score, I can rebound and I can defend, but to me passing the ball and seeing my teammates score is what it’s all about.”
Wade sat for precautionary reasons for the second game in a row as he rested his sore right knee.
The Heat’s bench picked up the slack by outscoring the Magic’s bench 42-15 and, Miami improved to 26-1 this season when its reserves outscore its counterparts.
“We’re coming in with a lot of confidence knowing we have put together a lot of good minutes and doing it on both ends,” Spoelstra said. “That’s good to see.”
The Heat, which had won its previous two meetings this season with the Magic by a combined three points, didn’t have to contend with Magic center Nikola Vucevic, a big reason for the close results earlier.
Vucevic, who sustained a mild concussion March 19, has yet to be cleared to play by NBA concussion protocols. Vucevic had 20 points and 29 rebounds (an all-time best vs. the Heat) on Dec. 31 in Orlando. Vucevic collected 21 boards in the second meeting March 6 at AmericanAirlines Arena and had 25 points.
Jameer Nelson finished with 27 points and 12 assists for the Magic (18-53), which led by six with 5:48 left in the second quarter.
But the Heat didn’t let the deficit balloon to double-digits as it had the previous four games, responding with a 13-0 surge before halftime.
James’ 11 assists highlighted the Heat’s 31 as a team, giving it more than 20 assists in a game for 22 consecutive games. That streak tied a franchise record.
“Orlando pushed the ball up in the second and third quarter, and we didn’t get back in transition like we’re capable and Jameer made big-time shots like the competitor he is,” James said. “We’ve seen it all. We know teams will make runs. We were able to withstand their run.”
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