Heat Check: LeBron James gets Miami back to winning ways

Near-zero temperatures in Minneapolis on Saturday night failed to distract the Miami Heat, who came away with a much-needed victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

LeBron James fell two assists shy of a triple-double in leading the Heat to a 103-82 victory against the Timberwolves. It was Miami’s seventh straight win in the series.

The Heat (15-5) avoided their first three-game losing streak in nearly two years (Jan. 10-13, 2012).

James had 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for Miami, which held Minnesota to 29-percent shooting (24 of 82).

After being exploited off the boards in recent games, the Heat were outrebounded by the Timberwolves by just 45-44.

Following losses to Detroit and at Chicago, and with visits to Detroit and Indiana next on Miami’s agenda, the Heat certainly didn’t need a loss at Minnesota.

Dwyane Wade had 19 points in his return after sitting the previous two games to rest his knees. Miami is 2-3 without its All-Star guard this season.

Forward Chris Andersen returned after missing Thursday night’s loss at Chicago for personal reasons, but fellow sub Michael Beasley was inactive with a sore hamstring.

Ray Allen (11 points), Rashard Lewis (10 points) and Andersen (nine points, four rebounds, three blocks) helped overcome the absence of Beasley’s offense off the bench.

Minnesota played without star power forward Kevin Love, who was not with the team following the death of his grandmother.

After being blasted on the boards in losses to Detroit and at Chicago, the Heat did a much better job rebounding to build a 55-42 halftime.

James (13 points, 10 rebounds), Chris Bosh (six points, seven rebounds) and Wade (11 points, four rebounds) led a spirited first-half attack.

Counting his time with Cleveland, James has been a part of 15 straight wins against the Timberwolves.

The turning point

Miami’s 15-1 run near the end of the third quarter opened a 19-point lead. Minnesota’s Corey Brewer sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the score 76-60 heading into the fourth quarter and end the Heat run.

The difference maker

LeBron James. He hit nine of 12 shots and played inspired from the outset.

Stat of the game

Miami, which had been beaten inside by the frontlines of Detroit and Chicago, outscored Minnesota in the paint 56-28.

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What’s next

The Heat continue their road trip at Detroit on Sunday night, 6 p.m. Miami then will play at Indiana on Tuesday night.

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.