PHILADELPHIA — LeBron James scored 27 points and the Miami Heat became the fourth team to win at least 20 consecutive games in a season, rallying to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 98-94 on Wednesday night.
Dwyane Wade added 21 as the Heat needed big baskets over the final 2 minutes to top the Sixers for the milestone win.
Only three teams have won at least 20 consecutive games in the same season: the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33), the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22) and the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (20). The Washington Capitols also won 20 straight, spanning the end of the 1947-48 season and the start of the 1948-49 campaign.
Thaddeus Young had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Sixers.
James and the Heat have started to acknowledge just how special this winning streak is in a season that has them running away with the Eastern Conference.
They opened a five-game road trip as 8½-point favorites over the slumping Sixers, a team they’ve defeated three times during the streak. They beat Atlanta on Tuesday for streak win No. 19, then made the flight to Philadelphia that put them in just before dawn.
“You get sleep when you can and do your job,” center Chris Bosh said before the game.
Maybe fatigue played a bit of a role in Miami’s inability to truly put away the Sixers. Led by Young, the Sixers opened the third quarter on a 16-8 run that helped slice the lead to four. Miami led 71-66 at the end of the quarter.
The Sixers hung around in the fourth, too. Dorell Wright hit a 3-pointer to make it a six-point game and he followed with a steal and fast-break dunk to cut it 82-78. Sixers fans coming to see a slice of history were suddenly rooting for history denied. Philadelphia’s fans started going wild to the “make some noise” sign on the video board and started singing the catchy anthem, “1-2-3-4-5-Sixers!”
Jrue Holiday brought them back with a 3-pointer for an 83-82 lead with 5:26 left and had fans chanting, “Beat the Heat!”
Ray Allen silenced them with a big 3 in front of the Sixers’ bench for an 89-86 lead. Bosh scored to make it 91-89.
It wasn’t enough, at least not yet. Holiday, the All-Star point guard, showed no fear of the moment when he dunked on James for the tying bucket.
James came right back made one of two free throws for a 92-91 lead. Holiday dribbled the ball into Bosh’s leg, then off his own foot, leading to Wade’s tip after James missed twice at the rim.
The Heat escaped with a scare — and No. 20.
Celts win, Garnett,
Pierce hit milestones
BOSTON — Kevin Garnett scored 12 points, passing Jerry West for 15th on the NBA’s career scoring list, and Paul Pierce joined him among the top 20 scorers in league history with 15 points as the Boston Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 112-88 on Wednesday night.
Garnett needed four points to pass West (25,192 points) and Pierce entered the game nine points shy of tying Charles Barkley (23,757) for 20th.
Garnett hit a bank shot with 10:03 left in the second quarter and received a standing ovation when his milestone was announced during a stoppage a few minutes later. Boston fans returned to their feet again in the third to recognize Pierce, who responded with a salute back to the crowd.
Pacers 107, T-Wolves 91
INDIANAPOLIS — Roy Hibbert had a season-high 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 107-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Paul George had 17 points and George Hill added 16 points with six assists to help the Pacers get their second win in three games.
Ricky Rubio had 21 points and 10 assists and Luke Ridnour scored 17 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost nine of their last 11 games.
The Pacers went on an 8-0 run at the end of the first half to take a 62-54 lead at halftime. They stretched the advantage to 16 late in the third quarter when George hit a fadeaway jumper and then a 3-pointer.
Wizards 106, Bucks 93
WASHINGTON — John Wall had 23 points and 10 assists, and the Washington Wizards beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-93 Wednesday night.
]Wall and Wizards coach Randy Wittman appeared to exchange unpleasant words during a timeout late in the third quarter, but Wall rallied with eight fourth-quarter points to hold off the Bucks’ comeback.
It was Wall’s seventh double-double of the season. He also added six rebounds and four steals.
The Wizards (21-42) have won three straight home games and eight of 11 in Washington.
Monta Ellis scored 26 points for the Bucks (32-31).MORE IN Sports WireTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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