Heat stay hot with easy win vs. Kings
Dwyane Wade came flying down the lane, grabbed a miss with his right hand and slammed it home in one motion.
If coach Erik Spoelstra wanted the Miami Heat to end a West Coast trip with an exclamation point, Wade provided the proper punctuation.
Wade's fourth-quarter dunk highlighted his 36-point night and led the Heat to their season-best eighth straight win, 104-83 over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.
Two weeks after having a team meeting in Dallas following their fourth loss in five games, the Heat are finally clicking the way people expected when they added LeBron James and Chris Bosh last summer.
''We have a different mentality both off the floor and on the court as well,'' Wade said. ''That team meeting really propelled us to where we are now. We understood and knew November was a tough month for us. But with that adversity there was a lot of growth going on. It was just about when it was going to click and right now it's clicking for us.''
James scored 25 and Bosh added 14 points and a season-high 17 rebounds as the Heat broke open a close game in the third quarter to complete a perfect four-game road trip.
Miami has won every game during this winning streak by double digits.
''It's two weeks to the night when we were walking out of Dallas' locker room and we did not feel that great about ourselves as a team,'' Spoelstra said. ''Now, two weeks later it feels like a different feeling in the locker room.''
The Kings, who have lost 15 of 17 and have the second-worst record in the NBA, offered little resistance to James, Wade, Bosh and Co.
Playing on the back end of a back-to-back after winning at Golden State on Friday night, the Heat broke the game open in the third quarter. After Wade helped put Miami in the lead with a 13-point second quarter, James got his offense going with 14 points in the third.
''Tonight we saw up close and personal how difficult it is to guard either one of those guys, let alone both of them in the same game,'' Kings coach Paul Westphal said.
James hit a pair of early baskets as Miami scored the first eight points of the third to open a 13-point lead. The Heat outscored the Kings 17-2 to begin the quarter, getting a pair of baskets from each of the Big Three and five points from Carlos Arroyo, whose 3-pointer made it 64-44.
Miami tightened up defensively in the third against the young Kings, who made just one of their first 13 shots in the period. Omri Casspi was one of the few Kings who could get any offense going, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and annoying James with his pesky play.
James was upset he did not get a foul call when Casspi knocked a ball off him and out of bounds. The two then bumped before free throws and James was called for goaltending trying to block a breakaway layup by Casspi.
James, booed almost every time he touched the ball, was then called for a technical for clapping at the Kings bench after making a jumper in the final minute of the third quarter.
The Kings failed to get it to single digits in the fourth quarter, losing for the 13th time in 14 meetings against the Heat.
The highlight of the final quarter came when Wade jammed home a miss from Mario Chalmers and performed a dance in the lane.
''That was spontaneous,'' Wade said. ''I know these guys are going to kill me for it. It was just spontaneous. I don't get too many tip dunks. I was excited. It felt good.''
Casspi led Sacramento with 20 points. Reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, playing on a sore left foot, was held to five points on 2-for-10 shooting.
''I'd have to say if he was OK he usually plays better than that,'' Westphal said. ''We are concerned about him. He struggled.''
Miami took the floor in sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division for the first time all season. After a sluggish start, the Heat went on a 15-0 run in the second quarter behind seven points from Wade to erase an early deficit and build an eight-point lead.
Casspi responded with a pair of 3-pointers for Sacramento but Wade scored two baskets in the final minute of the half to give the Heat a 47-42 lead at the break.
''D-Wade is one of those guys and there are only a few of us in this league. When they get going, there's really nothing you can do and he got it going,'' James said.
NOTES: Wade has scored at least 25 points in five straight games. ... Erick Dampier shot an airball on a free throw in the fourth quarter for Miami. ... The Kings have led at halftime only three times in 21 games this season. ... Arroyo was called for a technical in the first quarter when he argued that he was fouled on a basket.