Heat come from behind again to push streak to 25
By The Sports Xchange
|LeBron James of the Miami Heat reacts to a play during a game against the Detroit Pistons at American Airlines Arena on March 22, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP)
MIAMI - LeBron James is not about to argue.
His Miami Heat team is 25 games into the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, and the fact that they have fallen behind by double digits in three straight games does not seem to bother the superstar forward.
"I'd rather finish strong," James said, "than start fast and finish weak."
James did the former Friday night, putting up 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the Heat's 103-89 victory over the Detroit Pistons at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami is closing in on the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' NBA record win streak of 33 in a row. Miami's 25 wins have come in a span of 48 days.
The biggest obstacle to the Heat breaking the Lakers' record appears to be a March 31 date at San Antonio. Before that, a trip to Chicago could be tough. An April 2 date with their rivals, the New York Knicks, is another potential roadblock.
The Heat play a stretch that includes, in order, Charlotte, at Orlando, at Chicago, at New Orleans, at San Antonio, the Knicks and at Charlotte. If the Heat clear all those hurdles, they could tie the record with a home win over Philadelphia April 6 and break the mark with a home game against Milwaukee (April 9).
"It's crazy," James said of Miami's streak.
The Pistons, meanwhile, have lost 10 games in a row, the longest active losing streak in the league. Detroit was led by Greg Monroe, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds.
Detroit led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, but that was nothing to a Heat team that this week rallied from 17 down to beat Boston and from 27 down to subdue Cleveland.
The Heat trailed Detroit 54-51 at halftime but surged ahead by outscoring the Pistons 22-14 in the third quarter.
"We were a little bit flat in the first half," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "In the second half, the urgency was much better."
Spoelstra said the Heat's recent slow starts are on his "radar."
"We need to put together a complete game," the coach said. "We haven't had that energetic start we want. But this team, over the past couple of years, has shown that they can address things and improve."
The Heat improved to 31-3 at home. That ties the Heat with the Denver Nuggets for the best home record in the league.
Miami is 32-2 this season when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor. The Heat also had their 20th consecutive game of at least 20 assists.
The Heat overcame a poor game by forward Chris Bosh and a couple of injury scares. Bosh scored five points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade scored 19 points, although he had a team-high six turnovers. Wade also left the game for several minutes in the third quarter after hurting his wrist on a hard foul from Kyle Singler.
In the fourth quarter, an inadvertent elbow from Heat forward Chris Andersen struck teammate Ray Allen above his eye, drawing blood. Allen, though, returned to the game.
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said he did not fault his team's effort.
"But the (22) turnovers hurt us," he said. "In the first half, we had crisp ball movement for the most part. I counted only four bad offensive possessions in the first half."
Frank said the Heat - as expected - turned up the defensive intensity in the second half.
"We just have to clean up some execution things," he said. "We just need to sustain it."
Pistons point guard Jose Calderon, who had 18 points and seven assists but also seven turnovers, was also proud of his team's effort.
"It's not like they just beat us and no one else," he said. "They beat 24 teams before us. A lot of people probably expected them to beat us by 40 or 50 points. But that wasn't going to happen."
NOTES: The Heat's 25 wins during the win streak is as many or more victories than nine NBA teams have had all season. ... The Pistons have already clinched their fifth straight losing season. ... The Pistons are winless in March. During the skid, the Pistons have been outscored by 30 or more points three times. ... Here is what Frank said two hours before the Heat game: "Let's give them our best. Our tank has to be empty (at game's end). It should be after every game, but especially when you are playing a team that is chasing history. Miami is playing at a very high level, but we have beaten them (most recently this season in Detroit, Dec. 28, 109-99). It's not like we're selling something that can't be done." ... Up next, the Pistons play at Charlotte on Saturday before going home to face Minnesota on Tuesday. ... The Heat play host to Charlotte on Sunday before going on a four-game road trip