Heat rip Hawks to stretch win streak to 19 games
MIAMI (AFP) –
Dwyane Wade scored 23 points while LeBron James added 15 to spark the defending NBA champion Miami Heat to their 19th consecutive victory in a 99-81 rout of the Atlanta Hawks.
The Heat matched the fourth-longest single-season win streak in league history, trailing only the 20 in a row by Milwaukee in 1970-71, Houston’s 22 in a row in 2007-08 and the Los Angeles Lakers‘ record run of 33 from 1971-72.
Miami also matched the record for the longest win streak by a defending NBA champion, a 19-game run by Boston in the 2008-09 campaign.
Wade contributed six assists and five steals while James added seven assists and seven rebounds on a night when he made only 3-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 January 4. But Miami will embark upon a five-game road trip that starts on Wednesday at Philadelphia and includes 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.