Heat 109, Bobcats 77
The world's best came out to see if Miami could do it again. Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked men's 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 on Sunday, with LeBron James going for 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in a victory over Charlotte.
"I think it's 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 on Monday, a swing that also will take the Heat to Chicago, New Orleans and San Antonio. And the Heat will start that trip 2½ games ahead of San Antonio in the race for the NBA's 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 hadn't been getting regular minutes," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That's 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 3-point range, while the Heat was 13 for 30 beyond the arc.
"We ran into some dry spells and we settled for way too many 3s," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "At the end of the game we had 25 and that's not who we are."
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 on Monday — turned toward Heat owner Micky Arison and grinned. Klitschko's facial expression was one of disbelief.
By then, the only order of business was for some fans to sing "Happy Birthday" to Bosh, which happened with about 3 minutes left. He turned 29 Sunday.
Rockets 96, Spurs 95
James Harden sank an off-balance jumper with 4.5 seconds left to lift Houston to the victory.
Harden scored 18 of his 29 points in the second half as the Rockets rallied from three down in the final minute to snap a four-game losing streak to their state rivals.
Tony Parker scored 23 points, including 10 in a row to put San Antonio ahead with just under 2 minutes left. The Spurs led 95-94 when Harden got the ball from Omer Asik, drove to the free-throw line and hit the winning jumper with Tim Duncan in front of him and Kawhi Leonard behind him.
Duncan missed a jumper from the wing just before the buzzer sounded.
Chandler Parsons scored 20 points and Asik grabbed 14 rebounds for the Rockets.
Thunder 103, Trail Blazers 83
Kevin Durant had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Russell Westbrook fueled a key third-quarter spurt and the Thunder pulled away for the win.
Westbrook finished with 21 points and Serge Ibaka had 16 on 7-of-9 shooting for Oklahoma City (52-19), which moved within 1½ games of San Antonio in the race for the Western Conference's top playoff spot.
Damian Lillard scored 19 points for Portland (33-37), which went 2-3 on a five-game road trip. The Blazers fell three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the race for the West's eighth and final playoff spot.
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks was called for a technical foul with 2:53 left in the third quarter and that seemed to spark Westbrook. Portland's Nicolas Batum made 2-of-3 free throws to tie it at 63, but a steal and dunk by Westbrook started a 10-2 run that put the Thunder ahead 73-65.
Nets 102, Suns 100
Deron Williams had 21 points and 11 assists and Brooklyn held on for the victory over Phoenix.
The Suns' Goran Dragic fell a rebound shy of his first career triple double with 31 points, 12 assists and nine boards. He was a point shy of his career scoring high.
Brook Lopez added 20 points, Kris Humphries 17 and C.J. Watson 14 for the Nets, playing without Joe Johnson, who bruised his thigh in Brooklyn's loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The Suns had a chance at the end when Dragic purposely missed the second of two free with 3 seconds left and Phoenix' Hamed Haddadi controlled the rebound. But big Iranian's shot was off the mark.
Hawks 104, Bucks 99
Al Horford scored 24 points to help Atlanta rally for the win.
Josh Smith added 23 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks, who trailed 98-95 with 1:05 remaining. Devin Harris added 16 points and Jeff Teague finished with 14.
Smith converted a layup with 33.8 seconds to tie it at 99. After the Bucks turned it over, Dahntay Jones was fouled. He made the first and missed the second, but Anthony Tolliver grabbed the rebound for Atlanta and called timeout.
Horford was fouled with 20.1 seconds remaining and hit both free throws to give the Hawks a 102-99 lead. Monta Ellis missed a 3-pointer for Milwaukee, and Teague made two foul shots to put the game away.
Ellis scored 20 points for Milwaukee, and Ersan Ilyasova added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Bulls 104, Timberwolves 97
Nate Robinson had 22 points and 10 assists for Chicago, and Carlos Boozer added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Luol Deng scored 17 points and Taj Gibson had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who were missing Joakim Noah for the second straight game because of plantar fasciitis. They still dominated the boards, 52-32, including 20 offensive rebounds.
Derrick Williams scored 28 points and Ricky Rubio had 15 points and eight assists for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota got as close as five points in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls overpowered the Wolves down the stretch to win back-to-back road games for the first time since Jan. 16-18.
Jimmy Butler added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Bulls, who remained a half-game back of Atlanta for fifth in the East.
Mavericks 113, Jazz 108
Mike James scored a season-high 19 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 17 and Dallas beat slumping Utah.
Vince Carter and Shawn Marion each had 15 points as the Mavericks moved within two games of the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Enes Kanter scored 17 points as the Jazz lost their ninth straight on the road, Utah's longest such skid since losing 17 in a row away from home during the 1981-82 season. The Jazz's last road win was Feb. 13 at Minnesota.
The score was tied midway through the third before the 37-year-old James keyed a 20-2 run which bridged the third and fourth quarters.
Utah's Paul Millsap had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Gordon Hayward chipped in with 13 points.
76ers 117, Kings 103
Dorell Wright hit six 3-pointers and scored 22 points, Jrue Holiday added 21 and Philadelphia snapped its longest road losing streak in over 25 years.
It was a rare show of offensive explosiveness for the Sixers, who came in last in the NBA with an average of just under 93 points a game. They had 91 entering the fourth quarter and shot 49 percent to snap their 15-game road skid and beat the Kings for the fifth straight time in Sacramento.
The Sixers' last road win was on New Year's Day against the Los Angeles Lakers. Philadelphia's road losing streak was its longest since the club dropped 20 in a row from Dec. 28, 1987-March 4, 1988.
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points, Marcus Thornton added 22 and Tyreke Evans had 19 points and eight assists for the Kings, who had their three-game home win streak snapped. Patrick Patterson chipped in 12 points.
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