Chris Bosh and LeBron James are allowing Dwyane Wade to simply focus on recovery.
Bosh scored 30 points, James added 28 points and nine rebounds and the Miami Heat remained unbeaten without Wade in the lineup this season, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 113-92 on Saturday night.
Mario Chalmers scored 11 for Miami, which outrebounded Philadelphia 52-31 and moved into a tie with Orlando for first in the Southeast Division. The Heat are 6-0 this season without Wade, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle. And with him out this week, the Heat have downed three division leaders – San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers and now the 76ers.
”We looked at this as a huge week, a huge opportunity for us to get on a roll,” James said.
Lou Williams scored 22 points and Evan Turner added 16 for Philadelphia, which has lost eight of nine against Miami since the start of last season, including a five-game defeat in the opening round of last season’s playoffs.
”They were ready tonight,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. ”They were very, very sharp from the start. We hung around and fought there a little bit. They wore us down.”
Bosh came into the night needing 12 points to reach 12,000 for his career. When Bosh scores at least 20 points, the Heat are 7-0 this season – so maybe it was fitting that he helped seal the win early in the fourth. He scored eight of Miami’s first 11 points in the final period, the burst capped by a 20-foot jumper with 9:04 left to give Miami a 92-73 lead, then its largest of the night.
”We believe in our offense,” Bosh said. ”We feel that when we move the ball, when we get stops first and then we’re out in the open court in transition and being aggressive, we feel that we cannot be stopped.”
Philadelphia answered by scoring the next eight points, a 3-pointer by Jrue Holiday with 6:43 left getting the margin down to 11, but the outcome was never in serious doubt. Bosh reached the 30-point mark with a driving dunk with 4:44 left, giving Miami a 98-84 lead.
Andre Iguodala had a season-low four points for the 76ers. When James plays, his teams – including his time in Cleveland – are 16-1 in their last 17 meetings with Philadelphia, and Iguodala has played in all 16 of those 76ers defeats.
”We’re going to have some good games ahead with that team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The Sixers came in allowing 86.7 points per game, the second-best mark in the NBA. But Miami has had a knack for putting up big numbers against the league’s top defensive clubs, and that trend continued. After Philadelphia, the next five teams on the points-per-game-allowed list entering Saturday were Dallas, Indiana, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and Atlanta.
Miami has beaten them all in this young season, putting up at least 98 points against every one. The only team on that list left for the Heat to face is No. 1 Chicago, which visits Miami next Sunday.
”Championship is on our mind and in order to do that, we’re going to have to beat the best teams,” Bosh said.
Wade remains day-to-day, though is improving, Spoelstra said.
The Sixers played again without center Spencer Hawes, who missed his third straight game with a left Achilles’ strain, and their big-man woes got no better. Rookie Nikola Vucevic, who started in Hawes’ place, strained his left knee midway through the third quarter. He was helped into the Philadelphia locker room, unable to put any weight on the leg, but after a relatively quick examination it was determined that Vucevic, if needed, could return.
But by then, the Sixers’ chances were slim, at best.
Moments after the team announced Vucevic’s status, Bosh made a pair of free throws, pushing Miami’s lead – which was only six when the rookie got hurt – up to 88-71 with 10 minutes left.
”When a team like this gets on a run and the crowd is getting into it, sometimes things just don’t go your way,” Turner said.
Vucevic finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Elton Brand scored 12 and Holiday had 10 for Philadelphia.
The Heat wore their third uniform in as many home games, a white outfit trimmed in magenta, orange and black – paying homage to the 1971-72 ABA’s Miami Floridians. Heat players even took on new identities and looks for the game program: James, photographed holding a disco ball and wearing an oversized wig, was ”Clarence `Shonuff’ McGee,” for example.
Miami will wear the same uniforms again Sunday against Milwaukee.
NOTES: Wade’s six games missed matches his total from last season. … Philadelphia’s improvement over last season is no surprise, Collins’ history. At his first three NBA coaching stops, his team won an average of six more games in his second season than they did in his first. … Bosh, Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin are the only three active players averaging 20 points and nine rebounds per game in their careers.