Heat streak reaches 14


By BRIAN MAHONEY

AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK — LeBron James stretched his arm above the rim, soaring high on a shaky knee and turning his steal into a finishing dunk as Carmelo Anthony hung his head near midcourt.

The Heat took the Knicks’ best shot, but it wasn’t good enough to beat the defending champs.

Nothing is right now.

James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and Miami tied a franchise record with its 14th straight victory, rallying for a 99-93 victory at New York on Sunday.

“We feel like this is one of our better wins of the season, even under the circumstances that we went through tonight, a little adversity being down double digits,” James said.

Dwyane Wade added 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Heat, who had to overcome a 16-point deficit to beat the Knicks for the first time in three tries this season. Chris Bosh bounced back from a dismal first half to finish with 16 points and Shane Battier hit all four 3-point attempts to score 12.

The Heat won their sixth straight on the road by controlling the final minutes against a team that had a pair of 20-point victories over them this season and looked ready to run them out of the building again.

But James shook off a third-quarter leg injury and was back in top form by the finish, putting it away by coming up with a steal and throwing down a dunk with 23 seconds left.

“Obviously, it’s great to win games, period. But when you’re on a win streak, you’ve got to find many different ways to win ballgames and we’ve had comebacks in the last seconds, we’ve had double-overtime games, but this was probably the most thrilling one,” Wade said. “It was the most challenging. For a team who beat us twice, they handled us twice and they were up 16 in the first half, for us to have the resilience to come back, find a way fight out this win, it was great.”

Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points for the Knicks, who had won three in a row. Jason Kidd emerged from a lengthy slump to finish with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. J.R. Smith had 13 points and 12 rebounds, but shot 5 of 18 from the field.

“I think we are disappointed because we had an opportunity to win a ballgame here at home against the champs,” Kidd said. “So it’s something we can look at and get better at with those mistakes, especially later in the game.”

The Heat matched their 14 straight wins during the 2004-05 season and finally beat one of their closest pursuers in the Eastern Conference after dropping their first four against the Knicks and Indiana Pacers.

James landed awkwardly when he was fouled trying to catch a lob pass in the third quarter and was trying afterward to loosen his left knee or leg. He looked fine in the closing minutes, making key plays on both ends of the floor.

“His motor is limitless. I don’t want to take that for granted. I don’t just want to assume that he can play 40-plus minutes, but he had to do it on both ends,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Couldn’t get him out in the fourth quarter and if I would have tried, he probably would have strangled me.

“He was strong and was at his strongest after 40 minutes of basketball.”

Bosh tied it at 87 and Wade’s basket with 4:29 left gave Miami the lead for good. James then blocked Tyson Chandler at the rim and hustled down the floor to put back a Miami miss, making it 91-87.

The Knicks twice were within two, but James scored on a drive the second time. Bosh followed with a jumper for a 97-91 advantage, and after two free throws by Raymond Felton, James ended the Knicks’ final hopes when he stepped in front of a pass headed toward Anthony and broke in alone for the slam.

“They kind of walked us down towards the end,” Anthony said. “We made some mistakes, turned the ball over, and then that turnover was probably just the icing on the cake right there.”

James said he felt the knee a little bit during the game, but expected to be in uniform Monday at Minnesota.

The Knicks beat Miami here by 20 in their season opener and won again in Miami in early December by 20, even while playing without Anthony because of a cut on his finger that required stitches.

This looked headed for another blowout.

Kidd missed his 14 3-point attempts in the last three games and had been in a 7-for-49 slump behind the arc since Feb. 1, finally losing his starting job before Friday’s victory at Washington.

But he made a 3 early in the second quarter, then hit three more in the period. The Knicks rattled off eight points in a row to make it 59-43, their only concern coming when Anthony went to the locker room before the half ended with what the team said was pain in his ribs. He was back when the second half started and said the injury didn’t bother him.

The Knicks’ two victories over the Heat came during their 18-5 start, when they seemed championship capable. But they are just 17-16 since, and Miami’s a far different team now than it was in December.

Bosh had eight quick points in the third quarter after a two-point, 1-of-6 first half. Miami scored the last six of the period, cutting it to 77-73 on Battier’s 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds to go.

Miami finally caught up at 79-all when James nailed his second straight 3-pointer, stomping his feet forcefully as he walked away following the second with 10:04 to play.

NOTES: Juwan Howard was inactive, a day after the Heat re-signed the 40-year-old forward who finished last season with them. “To be honest, it felt a little bit strange not having him with us,” Spoelstra said. “It makes sense, it feels right.” … Knicks coach Mike Woodson said forward Kenyon Martin will be with the Knicks beyond the expiration of his first 10-day contract.

THUNDER 108, CLIPPERS 104

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 35 points, Russell Westbrook had 29 points and 10 assists, and Oklahoma City held off a late rally by Los Angeles in a matchup of two of the West’s best teams.

Serge Ibaka added 16 points as the Thunder ended a three-game road skid, bouncing back less than 48 hours after losing at Denver. They also completed a season sweep of Los Angeles, which is chasing Oklahoma City and NBA-best San Antonio out West.

Chris Paul scored 26 points, and Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford added 20 apiece for the Clippers, whose four-game winning streak ended with their third loss to the Thunder this season.

PACERS 97, BULLS 92

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — David West scored 31 points and George Hill added 20, leading Indiana past Chicago in a Central Division showdown.

The Pacers (38-22) have won seven of their last eight games, going 6-1 since the All-Star break, and hold a four-game lead over second-place Chicago.

The Bulls were led by Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler, who each had 20 points for a team that was missing four important players with injuries. Chicago fell behind late in the first quarter and spent most of the rest of the game trying to play catch-up.

The Bulls finally tied the score at 72 on Luol Deng’s 8-footer early in the fourth and again at 80 when Butler made two free throws with 7:04 left.

SPURS 114, PISTONS 75

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Manu Ginobili scored 17 points, Tim Duncan had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and San Antonio routed Detroit despite playing without All-Star point guard Tony Parker.

Danny Green added 16 points and Kawhi Leonard had 14 for the Spurs (47-14), who rolled to their most lopsided victory of the season in their first game since Parker was injured.

Greg Monroe scored 16 points and Jose Calderon 14 for Detroit, which has lost five of six.

The Spurs had 35 assists on 45 field goals. Making his first start of the season, Cory Joseph had eight points, four assists and one turnover in place of Parker, who sprained his left ankle in Friday’s win over Sacramento and is expected to miss about a month.

ROCKETS 136, MAVERICKS 103

HOUSTON (AP) — Chandler Parsons scored a career-high 32 points on 12-for-13 shooting and Houston snapped a nine-game losing streak to Dallas.

Jeremy Lin and James Harden added 21 points apiece, and Lin had nine assists for the Rockets.

O.J. Mayo scored 18 points and Shawn Marion had 14 to lead the Mavericks, who dropped six games behind Houston for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.

Houston broke open a close game in the third quarter, outscoring Dallas 44-17. The Rockets hit 14 of 20 shots and converted six Mavericks turnovers into 14 points.

GRIZZLIES 108, MAGIC 82

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Tayshaun Prince had 14 points and Marc Gasol added 12 points and 11 assists as Memphis cruised to a victory over Orlando.

The Grizzlies, who have won nine of their last 10 games, led by as many as 32 points and had six players in double figures. It was their first of five straight games against teams with losing records.

Memphis played without forward Zach Randolph, who rested the left ankle he sprained in last Friday’s loss to Miami.

Arron Afflalo and E’Twaun Moore each scored 12 points to lead a Magic team that has lost 17 of 19 on its home floor. Orlando is 4-31 since Dec. 20.

WIZARDS 90, 76ERS 87

WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall scored the final six points of the game after teammate Bradley Beal left the court with an apparent injury, leading Washington past Philadelphia.

Beal went down with a sprained ankle with 2:08 left in the fourth quarter. After being attended to by a trainer, he was carried off the court and through the tunnel by two teammates, keeping weight completely off both his legs.

Wall scored the next four points to give the Wizards an 88-87 lead, blocked Evan Turner’s shot with 53 seconds left and added a jumper with 4.4 seconds left.

Wall finished with 16 points and six assists as the Wizards snapped a two-game skid and avoided their longest slide in the last month.

Dorell Wright scored 15 points to lead the 76ers, who have lost eight of nine.

KINGS 119, BOBCATS 83

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — John Salmons scored 22 points and Jason Thompson had 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead Sacramento over slumping Charlotte.

Marcus Thornton also scored 18 points for the Kings, who made 13 3-pointers in halting a stretch of seven losses in eight games. DeMarcus Cousins had 14 points, Tyreke Evans added 13 and Isaiah Thomas had 10 points and seven assists.

The Kings closed the first half with nine straight points, then opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 64-40. The advantage exceeded 40 points several times in the second half and was Sacramento’s most lopsided victory this season.

Byron Mullens and Gerald Henderson each scored 12 points for the Bobcats. Charlotte, which has lost five straight, was outrebounded 60-31 and shot 36 percent.

 

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