Heat overcome huge deficit, run win streak to 24
The jilted billionaire owner offered an olive branch. The
scoreboard leaked fluid, causing a long delay. The home team,
missing its top three scorers, built a mammoth lead over the
defending NBA champions. A fan sprinted onto the court, hoping to
convince LeBron James to come back home.
Just an ordinary night in Cleveland.
James made it a memorable one, and kept Miami’s streak
Refusing to concede anything, James scored 25 points – 14 in the
fourth quarter – and the Heat, trailing by 27 in the third quarter,
rallied for a 98-95 win Wednesday night over the Cavaliers to
extend their winning streak to 24 games and move within nine of
matching the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest in NBA
”This was one of the most bizarre, unique days of my life with
everything that happened,” James said. ”It also was one of the
best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of.”
He made it happen.
With the Heat trailing by nine points entering the fourth
quarter, James made a 3-pointer and layup before draining another
long 3 to tie it at 77 with 10:28 left. After his shot dropped
through the net, James turned toward the sellout crowd in Quicken
Loans Arena and delivered any icy stare to many of the same faces
who cheered him during his seven seasons as a member of the
This was his moment, the one he and his teammates would
”When he made that one and turned around and looked at the
crowd, you knew it was coming,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.
James and his teammates have insisted the Lakers’ record, once
believed to be untouchable but now within their reach, isn’t a
goal. And for more than 30 minutes, they seemed disinterested and
were on the verge of losing for the first time since Feb. 1. Miami
trailed 67-40 with 7:44 left in the third quarter, and there
weren’t many signs that they were going to make it a game.
But Shane Battier made three 3-pointers as the Heat closed the
third quarter with a 28-10 run and the irrepressible James, who
added 12 rebounds and 10 assists in 42 minutes, did the rest in the
fourth as the Heat inched closer to history while matching the
NBA’s biggest comeback this season.
It was the second game in a row where the Heat had to rally.
They were down by 17 points – 13 in the fourth quarter – and
stormed back to beat Boston 105-103 on Monday and surpass the
2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest streak in NBA
”I knew there was a lot of time, so we never panicked,” James
said. ”We were down 27 with 18 minutes left. That’s a lifetime in
Although the Cavs were missing All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, Dion
Waiters and Anderson Varejao – their top three scorers – they
pushed Miami to the limit.
It wasn’t until James, playing his fourth game back in Cleveland
since leaving three years ago, made two free throws with 4.7
seconds left that Miami could relax, but just a little.
The Cavs had one last chance to tie it, but C.J. Miles was long
with a 3-pointer in the final second, letting Miami off the hook
and sending the Heat home with a chance to extend their streak to
25 on Friday against Detroit.
Following the game, James stopped to sign a few autographs as he
made his way to Miami’s locker room. This was much tougher than he
and the Heat could have imagined. The win also completed a
five-game road trip, dubbed ”The Reunion Tour” by James because
Miami visited Wade’s home in Milwaukee, Chris Bosh’s former team in
Toronto and Ray Allen’s in Boston.
”The streak wasn’t on my mind, but us getting blown out was,”
James said. ”I was going to be the only guy to take an `L’ on the
Mario Chalmers added 17 points and Wade had 11 for the Heat, who
outscored the Cavs 30-18 in the fourth quarter and 64-40 in the
Wayne Ellington had 20 points and Tristan Thompson 18 for
Cleveland, which went from a stunning upset to blowing the biggest
lead in a loss in franchise history.
”We knew it was coming,” Thompson said of the Heat’s comeback.
”They were the NBA champions last season. They’re not going to lay
down. Champions don’t lay down even when they’re down by 27. We
knew they were going to make a push. Guys went out and made plays,
so you have to give them credit.”
It was a painful blow to the young Cavs and owner Dan Gilbert,
who had a courtside seat to watch James do his thing. When James
left Cleveland as a free agent, Gilbert harshly criticized James in
a letter written to Cavs fans. Gilbert promised Cleveland would win
a title before James, and has said he regrets making the claim.
Last year, James said it would be ”great” to play in Cleveland
again, but that he had yet to work out his differences with
Gilbert. While James has moved on, it has taken longer for some
Cleveland fans, who can’t forgive him for abandoning his home
without winning a championship.
Before Wednesday’s game, Gilbert went on his Twitter account and
posted a message to say he’s no longer looking back.
”Cleveland Cavaliers young talent makes our future very
bright,” Gilbert wrote. ”Clearly, LeBron’s is as well. Time for
everyone to focus on the road ahead.”
This game had a little of everything with a carbon dioxide
container dripping onto the court and pushing the opening tip back
35 minutes, and a young fan running onto the floor in the fourth
quarter wearing a T-shirt that said: ”We Miss You, 2014 Come
Back,” a reference to James’ possible free agency and return to
James went out of his way and patted the fan on the head as
security rushed him off the floor.
”He said he missed me and come back, please,” James said. ”I
wasn’t worried. There are metal detectors here, so we were OK. I
NOTES: Starting with the Cavs, Miami’s next 10 games are against
opponents with a combined winning percentage of just .399. … The
Heat play the Pistons and Charlotte at home before going to
Orlando, Chicago, New Orleans and San Antonio. … It was the first
time Miami overcame a 21-point halftime deficit to win. … The
Cavs will wait a week before they evaluate Waiters, who has loose
cartilage, and decide whether he needs surgery. Cleveland coach
Byron Scott hopes his young guard comes back in the final month.
”If he gets back, I’ll be thrilled to death,” Scott said. …
Miami’s three wins over Cleveland this season have been by a total
of nine points.