LeBron James celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday by scoring 34 points to lead Miami to another narrow victory, 103-101 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
James added 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals. He delivered the pass for Dwyane Wade’s game-winning alley-oop layup with 4.6 seconds to play — the second time in two games that Wade nabbed the game-winner in the waning seconds.
Despite nursing a sore left foot, Wade finished with 19 points as the Heat improved to 4-0 in the lockout-shortened season that started on Sunday last week.
“It’s kind of sore from the other night,” said Wade, who bruised his foot in Wednesday’s 96-95 win over Charlotte. “I did a lot of treatment, but there’s still a little bit [of discomfort] there.”
Minnesota’s Wayne Ellington missed a jump shot attempt as time expired as the Timberwolves fell to 0-3.
However, the Wolves had reason to be encouraged with yet another double-double for Kevin Love — who scored 25 points with 12 rebounds — and a strong showing from Spanish rookie Ricky Rubio, who came off the bench to score 12 points with 12 assists.
Minnesota erased an early 13-point deficit and led 53-51 at halftime.
They led by five points early in the fourth period, but ultimately couldn’t hold off the star-studded Heat.
“They gave us everything we could handle,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James said before the contest that he always enjoyed playing on his birthday.
A two-time NBA Most Valuable Player who has endured playoff heartbreak and been vilified for the manner of his move from Cleveland to Miami prior to last season, was asked if he perhaps felt 27 going on 47.
“Man, I’ve been around,” said James, who is in his ninth NBA season. “I’m a vet now, a seasoned vet ... I’m very humbled I’m able to be here. I’m very blessed.”
BULLS 114, CLIPPERS 101
In Los Angeles, Derrick Rose had 29 points and 16 assists to help Chicago pull away in the fourth quarter to beat Los Angeles.
Luol Deng and Joakim Noah added 19 points apiece for the Bulls against their former coach, Vinny Del Negro.
Blake Griffin had 34 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who kept it close most of the way coming off a 25-point loss at San Antonio.
CELTICS 96, PISTONS 85
In Boston, Jermaine O’Neal scored 19 points as he and Boston ended a dismal start to their season by beating Detroit in their home opener.
O’Neal, who played passively in totaling just eight points in the first three games, all losses, was aggressive throughout.
He had 10 points in the first half, which ended with Boston on top 50-43. He then scored seven in the third quarter when the Celtics outscored the Pistons to take an 86-64 lead.
Ray Allen and Brandon Bass added 17 points apiece for Boston.
Greg Monroe had 22 points and nine rebounds for Detroit, which fell to 0-3.
MAVERICKS 99, RAPTORS 86
In Dallas, reserve center Ian Mahinmi scored a career-high 19 points as Dallas rallied past Toronto to notch their first victory of the season after starting with three losses.
Dirk Nowitzki contributed 18 for the Mavericks (1-3), as they avoided becoming the first defending champions to start 0-4 since Boston in 1969-1970.
Andrea Bargnani scored 30 points for the Raptors, 1-2 under first-year coach Dwane Casey, Dallas’ top assistant and defensive architect last season.
GRIZZLIES 113, ROCKETS 93
In Memphis, Zach Randolph scored 23 points as Memphis earned their first win of the season, beating Houston.