By John Denton
March 25, 2013
ORLANDO – Every time the undermanned Orlando Magic made a charge on Monday – and they stayed within striking range much of the night – LeBron James had one dazzling play after another to keep the Miami Heat streaking.
James broke open a tied game late in the third period by having his hand in several Miami baskets and the Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 108-94 defeat of the Magic that extended their winning streak to 27 games.
Playing in front of a nationally televised ESPN audience, an Amway Center crowd of 18,846 and several MLB and PGA stars sitting courtside, Miami (56-14) pulled within six victories of the NBA record for most consecutive victories. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers hold that record, but their 41-year-old mark could be in danger what with the way James is playing in concert with his Heat teammates.
James had 24 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds – one board shy of a triple-double – to help Miami offset the absence of Dwyane Wade, who missed his second consecutive game with a bruised right knee. James had 18 points and seven assists in the second half – many of those assists in resulting in Miami 3-pointers.
Miami, who broke the game open with a 20-2 run over the third and fourth quarters, made six of nine 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and 15 of 27 for the game. For the game, James had eight assists that led to 3-pointers, meaning he had a hand in 54 of Miami’s 108 points. Mario Chalmers (17 points) and Ray Allen (12 points) hit four 3-pointers each, while former Magic forward Rashard Lewis (11 points) and Norris Cole (nine points) hit three threes each.
``Everybody is beatable, but those guys are playing so well right now that it’s tough for anybody to beat them,’’ said Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who had 27 points and 12 assists. ``We’re all human and can be beaten in anything. But right now somebody has to find a way to beat them. Obviously, the last (27) times no one hasn’t done it.’’
Follow John Denton on Twitter here