No streaker goes down easily.
The Miami Heat fell into an early deficit with history’s second-longest win streak on the line and a controversial call decided whether or not the Denver Nuggets’ string of wins would continue.
The stirring action of Monday night featured streaks continued and streaks halted. It also included a moment in which Jason Terry was pronounced dead by Wikipedia.
Yes, it was that type of a night.
LeBron James even added his latest career highlight.
The Miami Heat can now focus on the real task at hand: 10 more wins.
LeBron James scored 37 points and added 12 assists as the Heat moved to 23 consecutive wins, surpassing the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in league history.
Ten more wins and the Heat tie the all-time record of 33 consecutive wins set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
While a title is always the ultimate goal, anyone who thinks that head coach Erik Spoelstra or any member of the Heat is ready for the streak to end so they can focus on the postseason is kidding themselves.
These guys are competitors, and the streak is one of the great team records in the game. The closer Miami comes to 33 consecutive wins, the more the Heat are going to want that record.
The Heat's next four opponents are lottery teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic. The Heat's next games against winning teams are at the Chicago Bulls on March 27 and at the San Antonio Spurs on March 31.
Win No. 33 would be played at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 6.
Here's another reason not to use Wikipedia as an official source.
The night's biggest highlight came in the second quarter of the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics' prime-time matchup.
James powered home a lob from Norris Cole with no concern for the defending Jason Terry, who was pushed to the floor like a stick caught in ocean waves.
The online uproar even led to Terry's Wikipedia page pronouncing him dead for a moment (per Beyond The Buzzer).
Certainly, it's easy to see the Boston Celtics as just another notch on the Miami Heat's belt.
But the Celtics are proving capable as contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Jeff Green, a season removed from heart surgery, scored 43 points with five three-pointers. Without Kevin Garnett, who sat Monday with a groin injury, Green also added seven rebounds and four blocks.
Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley proved pesky defenders in the tight loss. Bradley’s night included a spectacular chase block against Miami’s Norris Cole (see video).
Boston shot 54.2 percent but turned the ball over 20 times and allowed Miami to score 50 points in the paint.
Still, the Celtics are a threat in the Eastern Conference, trailing the third-seeded New York Knicks by just 3.5 games.
Only the second-longest winning streak in NBA history can overshadow what the Denver Nuggets are doing.
Denver won't go down easy, and its streak has now reached 12 wins in a row after a 119-118 overtime victory at the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
Controversy floated around the basket on the game's final pivotal play. With seconds remaining, Marco Belinelli faded away and missed short when Joakim Noah tipped the ball through the basket.
But officials went to review with 1.7 seconds remaining and called the play offensive goaltending.
The call was close, and it appears at an even closer replay that Noah touched the ball when it was over the cylinder, a goaltend.
The problem for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who threw out some expletives toward the refs, was that non-calls are not reviewable in that situation.
Interference calls can be reviewed if under 2 mins, but non-calls can't. Yet in this instance, one was and one wasn't. Not good.— Mark Deeks (@MarkDeeksNBA) March 19, 2013
Either way, the correct outcome was established.
Andre Iguodala hit a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining to give Denver its lead prior to the controversial call by officials.
These are the type of breaks that go to teams on magical runs.
The Nuggets have been tough, throwing a new name at opponents each night. On Monday, it was Wilson Chandler's 35 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
Despite Chicago's loss, Noah looked like an MVP with his effort. He made multiple plays at the basket, both offensively and defensively, and finished with 14 points, seven blocks, 12 rebounds and six assists (plus an uncounted one rebound, two points and a win).
Study this dunk for a moment, or the throw-in—or whatever you want to call it.
JaVale McGee's highlight came late in the fourth quarter of the Denver Nuggets' overtime victory at the Chicago Bulls.
As you watch him take off from a step within the free-throw line and throw it in like a dodgeball, answer this question: Is that throw-in dunk more or less difficult/impressive than a slam dunk?
We'll take the answers below.
Andrew Bynum is done for the season.
In other news, the Philadelphia 76ers won 101-100 against the Portland Trail Blazers and have now won 26 of their last 66 without the center whom the franchise emptied its talent base to obtain.
Bynum is going to go ahead and take the rest of the season’s 16 games off. The 25-year-old is undergoing arthroscopic surgery Tuesday on both of his knees (per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com).
The Sixers will have gotten nothing for Bynum this season, as the center hasn’t played in a single game.
Philadelphia traded away:
- Andre Iguodala (12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists for the Denver Nuggets)
- Nikola Vucevic (12.4 points, 11.5 rebounds for the Orlando Magic)
- Moe Harkless (6.8 points, 4.1 rebounds for Orlando)
At least dollars will be sent back Philadelphia's way, as Sixers president Rod Thorn told John Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer last week that leaguewide insurance will provide full protection.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has now won three of its last four games.
Someone was going to win Monday's battle of slumps.
The New York Knicks outlasted the Utah Jazz 90-83, snapping a four-game losing streak.
Though the wheels have completely fallen off the Knicks' wagon, J.R. Smith shot 5-of-13 off the bench for a team-high 20 points to push New York past the Jazz.
New York held the Jazz to just 38.2 percent shooting and forced 17 Utah turnovers.
Missing Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler in the win, as well as Amare Stoudemire who is out for at least the regular season, the Knicks started Kenyon Martin at power forward. Martin went for nine points and nine rebounds.
What else could go wrong?
Jason Kidd is having his left wrist/hand examined. Probably getting an x-ray. His hand was heavily wrapped— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) March 19, 2013
The Indiana Pacers kept pace with the Miami Heat with a win.
But the Pacers did maintain their lead as the Eastern Conference's runner-ups, still just one game ahead of the New York Knicks, with a 111-90 walkover of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Indiana was led by Gerald Green's 20 points, as the reserve was one of five Pacers in double figures:
The @pacers, a selfless team. “It’s not about my moment, it’s about us winning. Trying to win this division title.” - Gerald Green— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) March 19, 2013
It feels like the Brooklyn Nets are doing something sneaky.
Without the same level of fanfare as the other East playoff teams, the Nets are working toward home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Brooklyn led by as many as 43 points in breezing past the Detroit Pistons 119-82 on Monday behind 31 points and five assists from Deron Williams.
The Nets, currently owners of the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed, have now won five of their last seven games and hold a two-game lead ahead of the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks fell at home 127-113 to the Dallas Mavericks.
Brooklyn also gained a game on the Boston Celtics and remains just one game behind the New York Knicks at the No. 3 spot.
Coach Mark Jackson should hear the jubilant shouts of Golden State Warriors fans all the way in New Orleans.
The Warriors made another defensive stand in Monday's 93-72 road win against the Hornets, the second day in a row the Warriors held an opponent in the 70s.
Golden State is back on track and has won four of its last five games. The victory placed the Warriors four games ahead of the ninth-seeded Utah Jazz.
The hopes of the franchise's just second postseason in 19 years is nearing actuality.
This is a big deal:
Warriors probably need only 6 more wins to wrap up a playoff spot--with 13 left to play. Magic # is now 12 on both Utah and LALs.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) March 19, 2013
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 30 points past the Hornets, who have lost four straight games.
Let's just come out and say it: The Memphis Grizzlies have long been disrespected as contenders, and it's happening again this season.
It seems like there is always another team there to overshadow them.
Now it's the Denver Nuggets.
The Grizzlies are barely hanging on to a top-four seed in the West, standing in a virtual tie with the still-streaking Nuggets.
Monday's 92-77 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves pushes the inevitable slip to Denver off for at least another day.
Every win is necessary for the Portland Trail Blazers.
So the 101-100 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers stings even more.
The Trail Blazers now trail the Los Angeles Lakers by 3.5 games for the West's final playoff spot, and their next 10 games come against teams with winning records.
It's pretty much over.
The Trail Blazers had an opportunity to earn the win, trailing by one with 7.1 seconds remaining and final possession. Rather than allowing hot-handed rookie Damian Lillard the last shot, Portland coach Terry Stotts opted to feed LaMarcus Aldridge in the post.
Aldridge, who finished with 32 points, used the last possession with his back to the basket against Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes, but settled for a short fade over the seven-footer that missed.
Putting the ball in the hands of Lillard would have been a better choice, as the guard can make the play for himself or Aldridge. Plus, you want to develop the franchise playmaker.
Nearly an automatic pick as Rookie of the Year, Lillard finished the night with 27 points, including 5-of-7 three-point shooting, and has now scored 24.8 points per game in his past six games.
The guy who’s shouldered the Los Angeles Lakers through plenty of final quarters wasn’t available on Monday.
Still playing without Kobe Bryant due to the superstar's ankle injury, the Los Angeles Lakers fell flat in the fourth quarter in their 99-76 road loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix outscored the Lakers 28-10 in the final frame, as Los Angeles totaled a season low in points.
The homecoming was ruined for Steve Nash, who tallied 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting and added five rebounds and four assists in the loss:
Dwight Howard: "It's disappointing that we lost here. We wanted to win for Steve."— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 19, 2013
The Lakers did maintain their ground as the West’s eighth seed and still remain a game ahead of the ninth-seeded Utah Jazz, who lost 90-83 to the New York Knicks.
No one was talking about the Washington Wizards' win streak.
While ratings have yet to be released, the Wizards' three-game run probably didn't receive the same eyes as the Miami Heat-Boston Celtics matchup.
The finish was nearly as close though, as Gerald Henderson's 27-point performance lifted the Charlotte Bobcats to a 119-114 victory to snap the Wizards' streak.
The league-worst Bobcats weren't punching bags for one night:
BREAKING: The Charlotte Bobcats' bubble has burst. No college postseason for them. Michael Jordan is devastated. #SelectionSunday— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) March 17, 2013
Thought for sure Charlotte Bobcats were a lock for a 16 seed in the NCAA tournament.#MarchMadness— Will Ferrell (@Will___Ferrell) March 18, 2013
Follow NBA Lead Writer @JimmySpencerNBA on Twitter.