The Miami Heat trailed throughout, but on the strength of some ho-hum heroics from LeBron James, they were able to fight back and extend their winning streak to 23 games against the Boston Celtics Monday night, winning 105-103.
LeBron finished with 37 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists, including a number of huge plays down the stretch. He found Mario Chalmers for a crucial late-game three, but most importantly, he hit the decisive jumper with 10.5 seconds left. The bucket broke a 103-103 tie and gave Miami an improbable victory.
The win pushes the Heat's well-documented win streak to 23 games, breaking a tie with the Houston Rockets, and making this the second-longest stretch in NBA history. The Lakers won 33 consecutive games in 1971-72, a record that has stood scant opposed until now.
The news of the game is Miami's streak, but the story has to include Boston's Jeff Green. Criticized incessantly since coming over in a trade with Oklahoma City, the veteran forward battled Miami's vaunted defense and made it pay. He finished with 43 points—31 more than his season average, and 12 more than his previous season high—on 14-of-21 shooting, and tacked seven rebounds to boot.
But he couldn't match LeBron's Herculean efforts down the stretch. King James hit a cold-blooded jumper to break the tie on one end, while Green had his efforts blocked by Shane Battier on the other. Boston got the ball back one more time on a contentious call, but Paul Pierce's three-pointer went wanting, securing the victory for Miami.
It was close, and at times it looked hopeless, but the Miami Heat managed to extend the longest streak of most of our lifetimes.
Player of the Game: LeBron James (MIA)
It's tempting to, and justifiable to, consider bestowing this honor upon Jeff Green. His night was just as dominant as it was unexpected, and he deserves all the credit he'll be given.
But LeBron, as has become the terrifying norm, was unstoppable for Miami—especially down the stretch. As alluded to above, he hit the game-winning jumper with 10.5 seconds on the clock, and Jeff Green was unable to match him. He also Brandon Kinghted Jason Terry, an image that's sure to endure through the season.
What LeBron is doing right now is ridiculous, and he's elevating his team to his own, unique level. It's hard to say how the Book of LeBron will eventually be written, but outside of NBA titles, streaks like this are sure to play a massive part.
What's Next for the Heat?
Miami looks to further extend its streak against four of the league's worst teams. It travels to Cleveland before hosting Detroit and Charlotte, then playing at Orlando.
Assuming the Heat come away victorious, they'll then take a 27-game win streak into Chicago to play the Bulls.
What's Next for the Celtics?
Boston has to take its show on the road for a chance at redemption. The Celtics will play at New Orleans, Dallas and Memphis before coming home to face the New York Knicks.