LeBron James scored 29 points to help the Miami Heat defeat the Detroit Pistons 103-89 and extend their winning streak to 25 games, while the New York Knicks clinched a playoff berth with a 99-94 victory at the Toronto Raptors.
The Heat, who have the second-longest winning streak in National Basketball Association history, are within eight victories of matching the record of 33 straight wins by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The Heat, trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, took a 67-65 lead when James hit a 3-pointer with two minutes, 47 seconds left in the third quarter at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. This time of year, it’s going to be a dangerous team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “It’s going to be a team absolutely urgent, desperate for a playoff position or a team with nothing to lose, no pressure. Either way, you have to impose your will.”
Dwyane Wade had 19 points and Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier each added 11 for the Heat, who handed the Pistons their 10th straight loss.
Greg Monroe scored 23 points, and Jose Calderon and Kyle Singer each contributed 18 points for the Pistons, who had a 54-51 halftime advantage.
The Heat lead the Eastern Conference with an NBA-best record of 54-14. The San Antonio Spurs improved to 53-16, best in the Western Conference, with a 104-97 win in overtime against the visiting Utah Jazz.
Carmelo Anthony had 37 points for the Knicks, who captured their third straight playoff berth the day after the Brooklyn Nets also secured a postseason spot. Kenyon Martin added 19 and J.R. Smith scored 14 points at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Alan Anderson had 35 points and DeMar DeRozan added 18 for the Raptors, who trailed 50-37 at the half.
The Knicks (41-26) lead the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic division by 1 1/2 games over the Nets (40-28).