MIAMI – The worlds best came out to see whether Miami could do it again. Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked mens tennis player. Wladimir Klitschko, the world heavyweight boxing king. Rory McIlroy, who sits atop the golf rankings for at least one more night.
And they got quite a show.
The Heat won their 26th straight game Sunday, with LeBron James going for 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in a 109-77 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
I think its very humbling that you can have some of the greats from other sports come to see your team play, come to see you play, said James, who was 11 for 14 from the field in another surgical performance. You try to leave an impression on them, as a team and as an individual, absolutely. So it was great to have them in the building, for sure.
Chris Bosh and Norris Cole had 15 points apiece for the Heat, who played without Dwyane Wade, held from the lineup because of right-knee soreness that the team believes is minor. And after yet another slow start, Miami is now seven victories shy of matching the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the league record of 33 in a row.
The show now goes on the road for a four-game trip that begins in Orlando today, a swing that also will take the Heat to Chicago, New Orleans and San Antonio. And the Heat will start that trip 2 1/2 games ahead of San Antonio in the race for the NBAs best record.
Charlotte led by 11 in the early going and was within five in the third quarter, but two huge spurts by the Heat were more than enough to put the game away. Miami used a 31-6 run in the first half to erase the deficit, and a 26-5 blitz in the second half finished the job.
It was a good professional win and obviously we had a lot of guys step up, guys that hadnt been getting regular minutes, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. Thats good to see, because we will need it. ... Good team win.
Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 20 points, and Gerald Henderson had 18.
Charlotte finished the night 5 for 25 from three-point range, while the Heat was 13 for 30.
James departed with about 8 minutes left, after perhaps the highlight of the night. Chris Andersen blocked a layup try by Walker, doing so with such force that the ball caromed right back into play and basically started a Miami fast break on its own. James capped the sequence with a spectacular dunk, his final points of the night.
Djokovic clapped and smiled. McIlroy – who could lose his No. 1 ranking if Tiger Woods holds on and wins at Bay Hill today – turned toward Heat owner Micky Arison and grinned. Klitschkos facial expression was one of disbelief.