Heat’s winning streak rises to 18


By TIM REYNOLDS

AP Basketball Writer

MIAMI — Mario Chalmers scored 26 points, Chris Bosh added 24 and the Miami Heat won their 18th straight game, easily topping the Indiana Pacers 105-91 on Sunday night.

The 18-game streak ties the seventh longest in NBA history, and is the league’s best since the Boston Celtics won 19 straight during the 2008-09 season. Miami will try for No. 19 when it hosts Atlanta on Tuesday night.

The win also gave Miami (47-14) a victory over every NBA team this season. The Heat lost both previous meetings with Indiana.

Dwyane Wade scored 23 points for the Heat, who controlled the game despite a season-low 13 points from LeBron James. Ray Allen added 11 for Miami.

David West scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for the Pacers, who fell nine games behind Miami in the Eastern Conference standings. Roy Hibbert scored 15, D.J. Augustin had 14 and Paul George scored 10 for Indiana.

James’ previous season-low was 15. He still finished with seven assists and six rebounds for the Heat, who held a 27-15 edge in points off turnovers and finished the game shooting 56 percent compared with 41 percent by Indiana.

Chalmers needed only nine shots to get his 26 points, going 5 for 6 from 3-point range and making all seven of his free throws. He also grabbed seven rebounds, a season high.

There may have been touches of gamesmanship beforehand. Things like the Pacers coming out for warm-ups and choosing the basket that the Heat typically use, or just about every starter keeping those pleasantries before tip-off such as handshakes and hugs at an absolute minimum. And there were moments of physicality: an extra nudge here or there. But nothing near the level of those body-flying, blood-drawing clobberings that came during last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

Then again, that series was competitive throughout. This game was essentially over just after halftime.

Miami led by nine after the opening quarter, the second-largest deficit the Pacers faced after 12 minutes all season. Indiana hardly folded; the Pacers used a 24-14 run to get within two when West scored with 2:57 left before the half. The margin was still only six in the final minute before intermission.

But the Heat couldn’t have scripted a better final 6.9 seconds of the half.

After a deflection sent all the defensive matchups askew, James found himself being guarded 1-on-1 by Hibbert, so he simply drove past the 7-foot-2 center for a slam. Wade then stole the ball from George near midcourt with about 3 seconds left, took a couple dribbles and hit a 12-footer over Hibbert’s outstretched arm as time expired, giving Miami a 56-46 lead at the break.

Miami missed its first shot of the second half, then didn’t miss another field-goal attempt for eight minutes.

Seven straight makes by Miami fueled what became a 21-7 run, and essentially took away any mystery about the outcome. What was an eight-point game turned into a 77-55 Heat lead, the margin exactly doubling the biggest leads Miami held over Indiana in the first two meetings between the clubs this season — combined.

Raptors 100, Cavaliers 96

TORONTO — Amir Johnson scored 17 points and matched his career high with 16 rebounds, and Alan Anderson scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Cavaliers star guard Kyrie Irving was knocked out by an apparent shoulder injury late in the third quarter as Cleveland lost for the fourth time in five games.

Irving was hurt when he collided with Toronto rookie Jonas Valanciunas on a baseline drive with 2:04 left in the third. He shot the resulting free throws one-handed. Irving made the first but missed the second before walking off and heading to the locker room. He finished with 12 points.

Irving missed 11 games between Nov. 21 and Dec. 8 with a broken finger. He also sat out three games between Feb. 26 and March 1 with a sore right knee.

Thunder 91, Celtics 79

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Russell Westbrook scored 15 points and the Thunder stretched their winning streak to five games.

The Thunder limited Boston to 25 percent shooting in the second half after the Celtics shot 51 percent in the first. Oklahoma City used an 11-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to close it out.

The Celtics had pulled within 68-65 after three quarters before going without a basket for the first 5 minutes of the fourth, and they never could recover.

Paul Pierce had 20 points to lead Boston, which had its own run of five straight wins broken. Kevin Garnett chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Magic 99, 76ers 91

ORLANDO, Fla. — Jameer Nelson had 24 points and 10 assists, and Nik Vucevic added 14 points and 17 rebounds. The win ended the Magic’s seven-game home losing streak, their longest skid in Orlando since 2003-04.

Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris added 17 and 15 points, respectively. The double-double was the 35th of the season for Vucevic.

Thaddeus Young had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers, followed by Damien Wilkins with 16 points in his first start of the season.

Philadelphia has dropped five straight and 13 in a row on the road.

Hornets 98

Trail Blazers 96

NEW ORLEANS — Ryan Anderson capped a 20-point performance with a layup as he was fouled with 1.8 seconds left, and the Hornets snapped a three-game skid.

Anderson also hit a 3 with 15.6 seconds left that gave the Hornets a 95-93 lead, but Portland rookie Damian Lillard reached the 20-point mark for a sixth straight game by draining a 3 with 11.2 seconds left.

Greivis Vasquez, who also had 20 points, then dribbled out of traffic along the perimeter and found Anderson inside for the winning bucket.

Anthony Davis had 18 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans.

Wesley Matthews scored 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge 16 for Portland, which fell three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Mavericks 100

Timberwolves 77

MINNEAPOLIS — Vince Carter had 22 points and nine rebounds and Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points for Dallas.

Brandan Wright added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Mavericks, who have won three straight and four of their last five in a last-ditch push for the playoffs. They entered the day in 11th place in the West, three games out of the eighth spot.

Derrick Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds for the lethargic Timberwolves, who had no energy on the second night of a tough back-to-back that started in Denver. J.J. Barea scored 16 points, but Minnesota’s bench managed just six other points. The Wolves are 6-25 since Kevin Love broke his hand for the second time on Jan. 8.

 

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