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Heat 105, Pacers 91
It’s not a LeBron James winning streak. It’s a Miami Heat winning streak.
If there was any confusion on that point, the reigning NBA champions might have cleared that up Sunday night.
Mario Chalmers scored 26 points, Chris Bosh added 24 and the Heat won their 18th straight game, easily topping Indiana Pacers — even with James scoring only a season-low 13, yet clearly helping control play with seven assists and six rebounds.
“That’s the thing about our team,” Chalmers said. “We can click on all cylinders.”
The streak ties the seventh longest in NBA history, and is the league’s best since the Boston Celtics won 19 straight in November and December 2008.
“We just did what we’re supposed to do,” said Dwyane Wade, who added 23 points and six steals for Miami. “Win at home.”
Ray Allen added 11 for Miami (47-14), which now has a victory over every NBA team this season. The Heat had been 0-2 against the Pacers.
“When you can win like this, we can go home, we can breathe easier, food tastes better, it makes life a lot better,” Allen said. “That’s the goal and I’m sure everybody in this locker room will say the same.”
David West scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for the Pacers, who fell nine games behind Miami in the Eastern Conference standings. Roy Hibbert scored 15, D.J. Augustin had 14 and Paul George scored 10 for Indiana.
The Heat held a 27-15 edge in points off turnovers and finished the game shooting 56 percent compared with 41 percent by Indiana.
“We didn’t compete from the opening tip,” West said. “I just don’t think we brought enough competitive fire. LeBron James has 13 points and these other guys — Chalmers has 26 — it’s just not enough. We didn’t compete enough. You can’t beat a team like that in their building as well as they’re playing without competing.”
Those “other guys” did their jobs, none better than Chalmers.
Miami’s point guard needed only nine shots to get his 26 points, going 5 for 6 from 3-point range and making all seven of his free throws. He also grabbed seven rebounds, tying a career high.
Since Nov. 17, 2010, there have been only two instances of a player scoring at least 26 points on nine shots or less, according to STATS LLC: Chalmers on Sunday, and a 27-point effort from Chris Paul earlier this season.
Lakers 90, Bulls 81
Dwight Howard scored 16 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, Kobe Bryant chipped in with 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for Los Angeles.
The Lakers improved to 33-31, the first time this season they have been two games over .500. They also moved one-half game ahead of the Utah Jazz and into sole possession of the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Lakers led almost throughout, only briefly falling behind by two points in the second quarter, and led by as many as 18 in the third period.
Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 19 points, and Joakim Noah had 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Howard made 8 of 14 shots from the floor but missed all five free throws. His 21 rebounds marked the fourth time this season he's grabbed at least 20.
Clippers 129, Pistons 97
Blake Griffin led seven players in double figures with 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting and the Clippers beat the Pistons for their 10th win in 13 games.
Chris Paul had 20 points and 14 assists, and Caron Butler added 15 points before leaving in the third quarter with a left elbow contusion. Matt Barnes had 16 points, DeAndre Jordan added 13 points and seven rebounds, Willie Green 11 points and Chauncey Billups 10 points.
The Clippers set season highs for points scored and shooting percentage (62) while leading the entire game. Their old high of 125 points came in a win over the Lakers last month.
Jose Calderon was one of five Pistons in double figures with 18 points as they lost their fifth in a row overall, fourth straight to the Clippers, and fell to 0-11 on the road against Western Conference opponents.
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank missed his third straight game because of a family matter. Assistant Brian Hill, who is running the team, said he doesn't expect Frank back for the remainder of the four-game trip.
Raptors 100, Cavaliers 96
Amir Johnson scored 17 points and matched his career high with 16 rebounds, and Alan Anderson scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.
Cavaliers star guard Kyrie Irving was knocked out by an apparent shoulder injury late in the third quarter as Cleveland lost for the fourth time in five games.
Irving was hurt when he collided with Toronto rookie Jonas Valanciunas on a baseline drive with 2:04 left in the third. He shot the resulting free throws one-handed. Irving made the first but missed the second before walking off and heading to the locker room. He finished with 12 points.
Irving missed 11 games between Nov. 21 and Dec. 8 with a broken finger. He also sat out three games between Feb. 26 and March 1 with a sore right knee.
Magic 99, 76ers 91
Jameer Nelson had 24 points and 10 assists, and Nik Vucevic added 14 points and 17 rebounds. The win ended the Magic's seven-game home losing streak, their longest skid in Orlando since 2003-04.
Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris added 17 and 15 points, respectively. The double-double was the 35th of the season for Vucevic.
Thaddeus Young had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers, followed by Damien Wilkins with 16 points in his first start of the season.
Philadelphia has dropped five straight and 13 in a row on the road.
Hornets 98, Trail Blazers 96
Ryan Anderson capped a 20-point performance with a layup as he was fouled with 1.8 seconds left, and the Hornets snapped a three-game skid.
Anderson also hit a 3 with 15.6 seconds left that gave the Hornets a 95-93 lead, but Portland rookie Damian Lillard reached the 20-point mark for a sixth straight game by draining a 3 with 11.2 seconds left.
Greivis Vasquez, who also had 20 points, then dribbled out of traffic along the perimeter and found Anderson inside for the winning bucket.
Anthony Davis had 18 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans.
Wesley Matthews scored 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge 16 for Portland, which fell three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Mavericks 100, Timberwolves 77
Vince Carter had 22 points and nine rebounds and Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points for Dallas.
Brandan Wright added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Mavericks, who have won three straight and four of their last five in a last-ditch push for the playoffs. They entered the day in 11th place in the West, three games out of the eighth spot.
Derrick Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds for the lethargic Timberwolves, who had no energy on the second night of a tough back-to-back that started in Denver. J.J. Barea scored 16 points, but Minnesota's bench managed just six other points. The Wolves are 6-25 since Kevin Love broke his hand for the second time on Jan. 8.
Bucks 115, Kings 113
Monta Ellis had 29 points and nine assists and the Bucks survived a late comeback by the Kings to earn their second straight victory and sixth in seven games. Before the current hot streak, Milwaukee had dropped nine of 11 games.
Mike Dunleavy made four 3-pointers and scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half. Brandon Jennings also scored 16 points and had eight assists for Milwaukee.
Ellis had 10 fourth-quarter points for the Bucks, who were outscored 33-30 in the period.
DeMarcus Cousins, who was ejected in the third quarter, had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings. Tyreke Evans had 20 points and Jason Thompson had 18 points and eight rebounds. Isaiah Thomas had 14 points and nine assists.