The Miami Heat pushed their winning streak to 23 games, the second-longest run in National Basketball Association history, by beating the Boston Celtics 105-103 on a LeBron James jump shot with 10.5 seconds left.
James scored a team-leading 37 points for the Heat, who trailed by as many as 17 points last night in Boston and were down 96-83 with eight minutes remaining.
Miami overcame a 43-point effort from Boston’s Jeff Green to improve its NBA-best record to 52-14 and surpass the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for sole possession of the second-best winning streak in league history. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers hold the record with 33 consecutive victories.
“It means a lot for the simple fact that we’ve gotten better,” James, who added 12 assists and seven rebounds, said in a televised interview. “This is a hostile environment and to come in here and get a big win on the road was awesome.”
The New York Knicks halted a four-game losing streak with a 90-83 road win against the Utah Jazz last night.
J.R. Smith scored 20 points to lead the Knicks, who were again without Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler due to injury and needed a win to stay one game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets atop the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. The Nets routed the Detroit Pistons 119-82.
The Denver Nuggets extended their winning streak to 12 games by beating the Chicago Bulls 119-118 in overtime. The Nuggets held on for the win as a tip-in basket by the Bulls’ Joakim Noah with 1.7 seconds left was ruled goaltending.
The Los Angeles Lakers were beaten for the fourth time in 15 games since the NBA All-Star break, losing 99-76 to the Phoenix Suns as Kobe Bryant missed his second game in a row because of a sprained left ankle.
The Heat, who haven’t lost since Feb. 3, trailed Boston 41-24 last night before pulling within 59-53 at halftime. They carried the momentum into the second half, hitting four of their first five shots to grab a 61-59 lead.
Boston, which was without Kevin Garnett due to the flu, responded behind Green, who hit 14 of 21 shots including five of his seven attempts from 3-point range. Green scored 13 of the Celtics’ 14 points during one stretch, helping them take an 85-78 lead less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
The Heat rallied again behind James, who scored nine points to fuel an 18-4 run that put Miami back in front 101-100 with 2:40 left. James then made a layup with 1:21 remaining to tie the score 103-103 and hit the winning jumper over Green from just inside the 3-point line.
Paul Pierce, who added 17 points for Boston, missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds on the clock and Miami held on for an 11th straight road victory.
“No matter who’s in uniform for those guys, they’ve got a championship DNA and we had to work for it,” James said. “We were down a lot of times, more than we would like to be, but we got enough defensive stops, executed offensively and I was able to make one more play down the stretch.”
The Heat next play tomorrow in Cleveland against the 22-45 Cavaliers before returning home for games against the Pistons (23-46) and Charlotte Bobcats (15-52). They won’t play a team with a winning record until March 27 in Chicago (36-30).