Miami’s winning streak was in danger of disappearing — in Cleveland, of all places.
However, LeBron James would not give up, and the second-longest winning streak in NBA history has now increased to 24 games.
“That guy right there doesn’t want to lose in this building,” teammate Dwyane Wade said, nodding toward James, who left many angry Cavaliers fans behind when he left for Miami as a free agent three years ago. “Not tonight.”
James scored 25 points as the Heat overcame a 27-point deficit in the third quarter before beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-95 on Wednesday night.
Miami are within nine games of matching the record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers.
James and his teammates have insisted the record is not one of their goals, and for more than 30 minutes the defending champions seemed disinterested and on the verge of losing for the first time since Feb. 1. Miami trailed 67-40 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
However, behind the irrepressible James, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists in 42 minutes, the Heat inched closer to history and matched the NBA’s biggest comeback this season.
“This was one of the most bizarre, unique days of my life with everything that happened,” said James, referring to a homecoming in which a fan ran onto the floor and the opening tip was delayed 35 minutes by a leaky scoreboard. “It also was one of the best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of.”
James had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the fourth as Miami rallied to win for the second game in a row. The Heat were down 17 points — 13 in the fourth quarter — and stormed back to beat Boston 105-103 on Monday and surpass the 2007-2008 Houston Rockets for the second-longest streak in NBA history.
Meanwhile, James Harden scored 29 points to help Houston improve their positioning in the Western Conference playoff race with a 100-93 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Jeremy Lin added 24 for the Rockets, who currently hold the No. 7 spot in the West. They lead the idle Los Angeles Lakers by one-and-a-half games and are three ahead of the sliding Jazz.
The Rockets led by 19 points after three quarters and withstood a late surge by the Jazz to hold on for the victory.
Utah have lost 10 of their last 13 games. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 27 points and Al Jefferson added 18 points and 11 rebounds.
At New Orleans, Anthony Davis beat Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green to a last-second tip-in, helping the Hornets end a four-game skid with an 87-86 win over the Celtics.
Marc Gasol tipped in Zach Randolph’s miss with less than a second left in overtime, lifting the Grizzlies to a 90-89 victory over the Thunder in Memphis. After Gasol’s tip over Durant put the Grizzlies ahead, Russell Westbrook’s desperation shot from past halfcourt was off the mark and Memphis walked away with their 16th victory in 19 games.
The Knicks had a 106-94 win over the Magic, with Carmelo Anthony scoring 21 points for New York.
John Wall scored 19 points as Washington beat the Suns 88-79, picking up their first victory in Phoenix for more than six years.
In other matches, Charlotte beat Toronto 107-101 to win consecutive games for the first time since November, Atlanta held off Milwaukee 98-90, Brooklyn beat Dallas 113-96, San Antonio had a 104-93 win over Golden State and the LA Clippers beat Philadelphia 101-72.