Miami Heat

January 5, 2014

Chris Bosh perfect in win over Magic as Miami Heat extends march through division

LeBron James was held to 15 points, but the Heat won its 22nd in a row in the Southeast Division, one short of tying the NBA record.

Among the realities South Florida can count on: The Dolphins leaving you disappointed (at least for the last decade-plus). Muggy summer nights. And the Heat having its way with the rest of the Southeast Division.

Miami’s 110-94 win in Orlando on Saturday night pushed its division win streak to 22, one short of tying the NBA record.

And Miami did it in a most unusual way: with Chris Bosh not missing any of his nine shots, with Rashard Lewis leading the Heat in scoring until the game’s final six minutes (when Dwyane Wade and Bosh surpassed him) and with LeBron James scoring just 15, 10 below his average.

Bosh’s nine baskets without a miss were the most in the NBA this season and tied his career high. He went 4 for 4 in the first half and 5 for 5 in the second, closing with 20 points and six rebounds. Two-thirds of his baskets were dunks or layups.

“I knew I didn’t miss,” Bosh said. “I didn’t know how many. I didn’t care.”

Wade also scored 20, and Lewis — starting in place of injured Shane Battier — added 18.

James, meantime, shot just 5 for 13 but predictably helped in other ways, dishing out a game-high eight assists and hauling in eight rebounds.

Fact is, the Heat can dispatch Southeast opponents even with James at far from his best.

By beating Washington on Jan. 15, the Heat can tie the 1961 Celtics’ record for most consecutive division victories at 23. Before this streak, the Heat had won 21 in a row inside its division once before, in 2004 and 2005.

Though there have been plenty of competitive games in Miami’s Southeast stampede, the Heat’s talent ultimately wins out against Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington.

That was the case Saturday, with Orlando never leading in the game’s final 18 minutes. With Miami down by one midway through the third, Lewis hit a layup and then converted a four-point play to ignite a 15-0 Heat blitz.

Orlando never again drew closer than nine the rest of the game.

Lewis made his second start of the season and scored 10 of the Heat’s first 21 points. Playing against his former team, he logged a season-high 31 minutes and finished one point short of his high scoring total in a Heat uniform.

“It never gets old to beat your former team,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Even though he probably wouldn’t say it, it probably is special.”

Lewis, who played 3 1/2 seasons for the Magic, conceded as much and said he feels “a lot healthier than the last four, five years” and was pleased with his three steals Saturday, noting that his quickness is “back.”

He said it was important that he drove for a layup early in the game because “I didn’t want to settle for [only] threes. What’s good about this team is everyone is always ready to play when called.”

James committed three turnovers in the first half, giving him 15 in 2 1/2 games, but none in the second half Saturday.

It was a thoroughly frustrating first half for James, who shot 2 for 8 from the field and twice complained that fouls should have been called against his defender. But he hit two baskets late in the game, including a long jumper.

“I let the game dictate itself,” he said. “I didn’t have to put much pressure on my scoring.”

Even with James and Ray Allen (0 for 4) having atypical shooting games, Bosh more than made up for that, scoring four baskets on layups, two on dunks and three on 20-foot jumpers. “I had easy shots,” he said.

Spoelstra instead chose to focus on his defense.

“He’s a true two-way player — he’s doing it on both ends,” Spoelstra said. “He can defend 30 feet out and then recover back to defend the post, deny catches, help us at the rim. It’s a shame people only notice when he puts the ball in the basket. He can do that as well as anybody in this league when needed. He just doesn’t force it.”

Wade, who sometimes has sat out the first game of back-to-back sets to rest his knees, played with verve, finishing 8 for 15 from the field and adding six rebounds and four assists. He said afterward he felt good but was non-committal about his availability for Sunday’s home game against Toronto.

Michael Beasley gave the Heat another lift off the bench, with 13 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.

The Heat closed at 54.1 percent from the field, above its league-leading 51.1 season percentage, while the Magic shot 41.3 percent. Orlando played without center Nikola Vucevic, who has tormented the Heat at times in the past.

After the game, Heat players feasted on an elaborate spread prepared by Allen’s mother — including gumbo, fried chicken and six different types of cake.

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