CLEVELAND – LeBron James scored 25 points as the Miami Heat overcame a 27-point deficit in the third quarter and won their 24th straight game, 98-95 over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
The Heat are within nine games of matching the record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
James and his teammates have insisted the record isn’t one of their goals, and for more than 30 minutes the defending champions seemed disinterested and on the verge of losing for the first time since Feb. 1. Miami trailed 67-40 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
But behind James, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists, the Heat inched closer to history by matching the biggest comeback in the NBA this season.
James had 14 points in the fourth as Miami completed its second straight comeback. The Heat rallied from 17 down – 13 in the fourth quarter – to beat Boston 105-103 Monday night and snap a tie with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
HAWKS 98, BUCKS 90: In Atlanta, Jeff Teague scored 27 points and Al Horford had 26, taking control after a sluggish first quarter to lead Atlanta past Milwaukee.
Teague scored 11 points in the second quarter and a dozen more in the third as the Hawks pushed out to a 77-59 lead. Horford scored 10 points in the final period and finished with 15 rebounds.
KNICKS 106, MAGIC 94: In New York, Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points after missing the previous three games with a knee injury, and New York beat Orlando.
J.R. Smith added 22 points for New York. The NBA’s second-leading scorer hadn’t played since leaving the Knicks’ road trip last week to have fluid drained from the back of his right knee. Anthony said he felt much better after the morning shootaround and moved better, shooting 7 of 14 and grabbing eight rebounds.
BOBCATS 107, RAPTORS 101: In Charlotte, N.C., Byron Mullens scored 25 points, Gerald Henderson had another solid all-around game and Charlotte beat Toronto to win consecutive games for the first time since mid-November.
SPURS 104, WARRIORS 93: In San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 25 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four blocks and San Antonio beat Golden State.
Tiago Splitter added 17 points, Manu Ginobili had 16 points and seven assists and fellow reserve Nando De Colo had 10 points for San Antonio (52-16).
ROCKETS 100, JAZZ 93: In Houston, James Harden had 29 points and Houston improved its positioning in the Western Conference playoff race with a win over Utah.
Jeremy Lin added 24 for the Rockets, who currently hold the No. 7 spot in the West.
HORNETS 87, CELTICS 86: In New Orleans, Anthony Davis outreached Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green for a last-second tip-in, and New Orleans snapped a four-game skid with a victory over Boston. Davis, who missed the morning shootaround with an illness, finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
NETS 113, MAVERICKS 96: In Dallas, Brook Lopez scored 38 points and Deron Williams had 31 in his first visit to Dallas since spurning his hometown team in free agency, leading Brooklyn past the Mavericks.
GRIZZLIES 90, THUNDER 89, OT: In Memphis, Tenn., Marc Gasol tipped in Zach Randolph’s miss with less than a second left in overtime to give Memphis a win over Oklahoma City.