At this point, it's almost like the Miami Heat are toying with opponents and the entire league.
After being behind by almost 30 points to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third quarter Wednesday night, Miami went on a 37-10 run and coasted to a 98-95 victory to increase its winning streak to 24 games.
LeBron James, who had a triple-double with 25 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds in his first trip to Cleveland this season, willed the Heat back in the late stages of the third and early part of the fourth. He was joined by teammates Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, who each hit three three-pointers to help close the gap and keep the lead.
Cleveland, missing starting guards Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Dion Waiters (knee) to injury, put up a valiant effort in the first 28 minutes or so, but completely collapsed thereafter to fall just short of putting a gratifying end to the historic bid by the best team in the NBA.
Wayne Ellington had 20 points to lead the Cavs, while rookie Tyler Zeller added 12 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes in the disappointing loss.
The game got off to an unceremonious start after a delay that stemmed from a leaky scoreboard—certainly something that disrupted the normal rhythm and flow players are accustomed to after warming up.
Miami must have felt the effects of that delay in action, coming out flat on offense and giving up 55 points to Cleveland in the first half. The Cavs led by as many as 27 in the second half before the Heat closed the gap to nine heading into the fourth quarter.
That's when the Heat really woke up.
Miami completely erased the lead by the 10:26 mark and managed to survive a Cleveland comeback attempt after Wayne Ellington missed a step-back jumper and C.J. Miles bricked a deep three-pointer as time expired.
Eric Spoelstra's team did not make a field goal over the final 3:44, making it interesting before watching Cleveland's last two attempts go awry.
The Heat also managed to erase a late Celtics lead on Monday night in Boston. Miami battled back from a 17-point deficit and made Jeff Green's career-high 43 points all for naught, a trend that continued Wednesday night in LeBron's home state.
The march toward the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' record 33 straight wins continues.
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