Heat streak survives 27-point deficit
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
No Kyrie Irving, no Anderson Varejao and no Dion Waiters.
And the Cleveland Cavaliers, missing three of their starters, were doing a number on the Miami Heat. Up by 23 in the first half. Up 27 with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter.
The team with 22 wins all season looked like it was ready to end the Heat’s 23-game winning streak, the second longest streak in NBA history. And you can bet Cleveland, spurned by LeBron James when he decided to leave the Cavaliers during free agency in 2010, loved every minute of it.
Then, the Heat locomotive, led by engineer James, started rolling, and subsequently steamrolled the Cavaliers.
Miami overcame its largest deficit during the streak and defeated the Cavaliers 98-95, extending its streak to 24 games, nine wins shy of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ record of 33 wins in a row.
“We had to dig deep for this one,” James told Fox Sports Florida after the game. “This is a gut performance by our team, and I was happy my teammates were able to come through for me.”
Naturally, James was at the center of it. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has said numerous times that his team wants to win when it players against a Heat player’s former team.
James, who has played extremely well in every game he has played in Cleveland with Miami, took matters into his own hands. After scoring just six points in the first half, James scored 19 in the second half and finished with 25. He added 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double in four games as a visitor at Cleveland. He also had three steals and two blocks, for good measure.
“They came out and hit us upside our head and built that huge lead,” James said. “We made a run. We started playing Miami Heat defense, we started executing and started knocking down some shots.”
An oil leak from the scoreboard above center court delayed the tip-off for 35 minutes. The Cavs came out strong and the Heat started flat, falling behind 55-33 in the second quarter and 66-40 in the … [For more on Heat win streak survives 27-point deficit at Cavaliers, click here.]