The Miami Heat used a decisive 15-3 third-quarter run to take control against the Philadelphia 76ers and rest its starters in advance of tomorrow night's meeting against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami's fourth game in five nights. The Heat have now won 10 straight games and hold a six-game lead atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Dwyane Wade scored his 16,000th point in the first quarter and kept rolling from then on. Wade made 11 of his first 13 shot attempts and finished with a game-high 33 points and six rebounds. The 10-year NBA veteran had his jumper going for him early, but continued to attack the basket in the paint and play good defense to cool down a Sixers team that started shooting the ball well.
Can any performance overshadow an amazingly efficient 33-point night? Well, LeBron James registered his third triple-double of the season, going for 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. James got the Philadelphia faithful out of their seats during one third quarter sequence -- he stole the ball from Jrue Holiday, barreled down the lane and somehow found Ray Allen despite three Sixers around him for a corner 3. On Miami's next possession, James took the ball at the 3-point line with six seconds on the shot clock and easily made his way to the paint for a layup. And seconds later, James stole the ball from Thaddeus Young and finished a two-handed alley-oop from Norris Cole. James is simply this generation's best basketball player.
Miami didn't just win thanks to Wade and James -- the Heat played purely crisp basketball on both ends of the court. Miami never failed to make the extra pass to turn a good look into a great look. That's why Chris Bosh shot 6-of-12, Mario Chalmers scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and dished out eight assists, Ray Allen knocked down four 3s and Shane Battier made both of his attempts from long distance. Even Cole kept things interesting in crunch time, making crafty plays at the rim and even dunking the ball twice.
The Heat players will try to win their 40th game of the season tomorrow night at 6 against Cleveland.