The Miami Heat inched closer to top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 107-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 26 points and LeBron James had 24 against his former team as the Heat put the game out of reach with a fourth-quarter surge.
Miami led 84-78 with just over nine minutes left before embarking on an 8-0 run that padded the advantage to double digits and helped the Heat move within a game of the conference-leading Chicago Bulls.
“The final score was not indicative about how competitive and close that game was,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “That team is improved. We did some things well on both ends of the court, but we did some things to allow them extra possessions to get back into the game.”
The Cavaliers are moving forward from losing James to Miami in 2010 with a surprisingly solid start to the season behind No. 1 overall draft pick Kyrie Irving, who recorded 16 points against the Heat.
Antawn Jamison had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers, who kept pace with the Heat for three quarters before losing steam in the fourth.
Miami led by just six after three quarters before stepping up the pressure in the fourth.
Chris Bosh had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Heat, who held the Cavs to just 39 percent shooting.
“When you have Daniel Gibson, Anthony Parker and Tristan Thompson [injured] and then have to make adjustments on our starting unit, it makes a difference,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “Our second unit just couldn’t make a basket, they shot about 17 percent for the game.”
CELTICS 94, BOBCATS 84
In Boston, Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird for No. 2 on the Celtics’ career scoring list as Boston downed lowly Charlotte and increased their winning streak to five.
Pierce hit a three-pointer in the third quarter to pass Bird’s total of 21,791. He nearly celebrated the milestone with a triple-double, coming up just short with 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Rajon Rondo added 14 assists and 10 points for the Celtics.
Reggie Williams scored 21 for the Bobcats, who were competitive but still lost their 12th straight.
THUNDER 119, WARRIORS 116
In Oakland, California, Kevin Durant hit a go-ahead bank shot with 14.2 seconds remaining and the NBA-leading Oklahoma City clung on to edge Golden State.
Durant finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Russell Westbrook added 31 points and seven rebounds for the Thunder, who survived another thriller a night after beating Portland in overtime.
Monta Ellis scored a career-high 48 points for the Warriors, while David Lee had 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double. However both Ellis and Brandon Rush both missed three-pointers in the closing seconds to tie or take the lead.
In other NBA action, it was:
‧ Pacers 104, Jazz 99
‧ Timberwolves 86, Kings 84
‧ Suns 107, Bucks 105