Dwyane Wade scored 23 points, while LeBron James added 15 to spark defending NBA champions Miami Heat to their 19th consecutive victory in a 99-81 rout of the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.
The Heat matched the fourth-longest single-season win streak in league history, trailing only the 20 in a row by Milwaukee in 1970-1971, Houston’s 22 in a row in 2007-2008 and the Los Angeles Lakers’ record run of 33 from 1971-1972.
Miami also matched the record for the longest win streak by defending NBA champions, a 19-game run by Boston in the 2008-2009 campaign.
Wade contributed six assists and five steals, while James added seven assists and seven rebounds on a night when he made only three-of-11 shots from the field, as the Heat won a 15th home game in a row, improving to 30-3 at home this season.
“Leading with our defense has been the key for us,” Wade said. “We come out defensive minded from the beginning of the game.”
The Heat, 48-14, have not dropped a home game since losing to Chicago on Jan. 4.
However, Miami are set to embark upon a five-game road trip that was to start yesterday at Philadelphia and is to include stops in Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Cleveland.
Wade said the Miami bench is a major factor in sustaining the win streak.
“The key is our depth,” Wade said. “We come in waves. Our bench has definitely got to come to play.”
The Heat scored 27 points off a season-high 24 Atlanta turnovers and never trailed in producing the 14th double-digit victory margin in the team’s record run.
Miami, the only NBA team to clinch a playoff spot and also the only team to have beaten every other NBA team this season, led the Hawks by as many as 22 points.
Josh Smith led Atlanta with 15 points, but the Hawks, 34-29, have dropped eight consecutive meetings with the Heat.
LAKERS 106, MAGIC 97
Dwight Howard scored a season-high 39 points, had 16 rebounds and was sent to the free-throw line 39 times by his former team as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 106-97 on Tuesday night.
The victory came in Howard’s first return to Orlando since his offseason trade to the Lakers. He endured a chorus of boos throughout, and tied his own NBA record for free-throw attempts.
The majority of them came as the Magic tried to employ an intentional foul strategy. However, it backfired, because the All-Star center hit on 16 of 20 attempts in the second half.
The victory was the Lakers’ fourth straight.
Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 21 points.
In other play, it was:
‧ Mavericks 115, Bucks 108
‧ Grizzlies 102, Trail Blazers 97
‧ Nets 108, Hornets 98
‧ Timberwolves 107, Spurs 83
‧ Bobcats 100, Celtics 74
‧ Cavaliers 95, Wizards 90