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NBA: Heat run winning streak to 20

by DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer on March 14, 2013 10:00 AM

PHILADELPHIA — With LeBron James by his side in the locker room, Dwyane Wade took a moment to admire Miami’s streak.

“Twenty is special,” Wade said. “Win 20 games in a row, it’s awesome. You can’t get around it. We’re going to try to go for the next one.”

James and Wade have an NBA title together, and now they’re chasing history.

James scored 27 points and the Miami Heat became the fourth team to win at least 20 consecutive games in a season, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 98-94 on Wednesday.

“Wherever the game takes us in those 48 minutes, we’re ready for it,” James said.

For win No. 20, the game took the Heat down to the wire.

All of Miami’s talent wasn’t enough to put away a Sixers team revved up like it was a playoff game. The Heat had a 10-point lead early in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough, at least not yet.

Jrue Holiday, the 76ers’ All-Star point guard, showed no fear of the moment when he dunked on a leaping James for the tying bucket.

James came right back and made one of two free throws for a 92-91 lead. Holiday dribbled the ball into Chris Bosh’s leg, then off his own foot, leading to Wade’s tip for a three-point lead after James missed twice at the rim. James drove from beyond the arc and missed from the right side, he put up his own rebound off the back of the rim, and Wade slid in underneath two Sixers defenders for the bucket.

“I miss two gimmes and D-Wade was able to tip ‘em home,” James said. “It was just great of him not giving up on the play and putting us up.”

The Heat escaped with a scare — and No. 20.

“When you have a streak like this, you have to have some luck,” James said.

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.

Unless they wear down, there’s no reason to think the Heat can’t keep the streak going toward 33. The rest of the road trip includes games at Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Cleveland.

Up ahead: Friday night against the Bucks.

“We just think about winning the next game and we’ll see where it takes us,” James said.

Wade scored 21 as the Heat needed big baskets over the final 2 minutes to top the Sixers for the milestone win. He stuck with the ball on James’ misses and scored the clutch tip that made it a three-point lead with 29 seconds left that squashed the Sixers’ upset bid.

“It shows you he, like many of our guys, are just willing to make winning plays at the end,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.

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.

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