Dwyane Wade and LeBron James starred as the Miami Heat won a franchise record 15th consecutive game on Monday with a 97-81 win over a depleted Minnesota Timberwolves.
Wade shot 15 of 20 from the field and also added 10 assists for a 32-point haul, while a hobbling James finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Heat recorded a comfortable win.
“Everybody knows their roles on this team,” Miami guard Ray Allen said. “It takes time, but we have figured out a formula on how to win on the road.”
James was playing with a sore left knee after wrenching it in Sunday’s tense 99-93 win over the New York Knicks.
Allen had 13 points to help the defending National Basketball Association champions eclipse their previous club mark of 14 straight wins, set between Dec. 6, 2004 and Jan. 1, 2005.
Allen said the Heat cannot afford to get complacent because other teams have no trouble getting motivated to face the reigning champions.
“It is a process,” Allen said of trying to repeat. “When you make it all the way, you forget about the tough days. You can’t get bored with the process. No win is greater than the next. We have got to start every game the same way.”
Allen said Miami recognize they are now the team every rival wants to beat.
“Teams look at beating us as a way to turn their seasons around,” he said. “We have to put ourselves in other teams’ shoes. We can’t ease our way into any games or it will be a long night for us.”
Derrick Williams finished with a season-high 25 points, while Ricky Rubio had 14 points, eight assists and six steals for the Timberwolves, who lost their sixth consecutive contest. Minnesota dropped to 4-22 in their past 26 games.
Minnesota were without star forward Kevin Love, who had surgery to repair a broken right hand. Center Nikola Pekovic also skipped Monday’s contest with a abdominal strain. Starting forward Andrei Kirilenko is also out with a strained calf muscle.
J.J. Barea had four points and was tossed from the game in the final quarter after tangling with Allen.
Barea bodychecked Allen as he was driving to the basket, knocking the former Boston Celtic to the floor. Allen got up quickly and charged toward Barea, before players from both teams got between the two.
“I thought it was a bush league move,” Allen said of the bodycheck. “I don’t care who you are in the league, you have got to defend yourself. He got ejected for a reason.”
After the ejection, Miami went on a 17-5 run to put the game out of reach for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota coach Rick Adelman tried to argue the flagrant one call on Barea, but was slapped with a technical foul of his own.
Miami dominated Minnesota 58-32 in the paint, finishing with 24 dunks or layups out of a total of 38 field goals.
The Heat now head back home for four straight games against Orlando, Philadelphia, Indiana and Atlanta.