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Heat rallies from 27-point deficit to extend streak to 24

Miami Heat's Norris Cole, left, Udonis Haslem (40) and Rashard Lewis, right, celebrate from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Cleveland. Miami won 98-95. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Miami Heat's Norris Cole, left, Udonis Haslem (40) and Rashard Lewis, right, celebrate from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Cleveland. Miami won 98-95. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

LeBron James scored 25 points as the Miami Heat overcame a 27-point deficit in the third quarter and won their 24th straight game, 98-95 over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers last night to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.

The Heat are within nine games of matching the record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

James and his teammates have insisted the record isn’t 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.

But behind the irrepressible James, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists, the Heat inched closer to history by matching the biggest comeback in the NBA this season, according to STATS.

James had 14 points in the fourth as Miami completed its second straight comeback. The Heat rallied from 17 down – 13 in the fourth quarter – to beat Boston, 105-103, Monday night and snap a tie with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.

Although the Cavs were missing All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao – their top three scorers – they pushed Miami to the limit.

It wasn’t until James, playing his fourth game back in Cleveland since leaving as a free agent in 2010, made two free throws with 4.7 seconds left that Miami could relax a little. The Cavs had one last chance to tie it, but C.J. Miles was long with a 3-pointer in the final second, letting Miami off the hook.

GRIZZLIES 90, THUNDER 89, OT

Marc Gasol tipped in Zach Randolph’s miss with less than a second left in overtime, lifting the Grizzlies to the win.

In a game that had all the intensity of a playoff matchup, Jerryd Bayless connected from the top of the key for Memphis with 3.7 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 83. Bayless had 10 points in the fourth quarter.

After Gasol’s tip over Kevin Durant put the Grizzlies ahead, Russell Westbrook’s desperation shot from past halfcourt was off the mark and Memphis walked away with its 16th victory in 19 games.

Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 24 points and Bayless had 20.

Durant led the Thunder with 32 points, including 15 in the third quarter.

KNICKS 106, MAGIC 94

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points to lead New York over Orlando after missing the previous three games with a knee injury.

J.R. Smith had 22 points for New York, still short-handed in the frontcourt but looking much better with Anthony back. The NBA’s second-leading scorer hadn’t played since leaving the Knicks’ road trip last week to have fluid drained from the back of his right knee.

Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson each scored 14 points for the Magic in their fifth straight loss. They played without center Nikola Vucevic because of an illness in the second night of a difficult back-to-back, after losing by 22 at Indiana on Tuesday.

HAWKS 98, BUCKS 90

Jeff Teague scored 27 points and Al Horford had 26, taking control after a sluggish first quarter to lead Atlanta past Milwaukee.

Teague scored 11 points in the second quarter and a dozen more in the third as the Hawks pushed out to a 77-59 lead. Horford scored 10 points in the final period and finished with 15 rebounds, stepping up to help the Hawks hold off a Milwaukee comeback.

BOBCATS 107, RAPTORS 101

Byron Mullens scored 25 points, Gerald Henderson had another solid all-around game and Charlotte beat Toronto to win consecutive games for the first time since mid-November.

Mullens scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. The reserve made his final eight free throws, including four with less than 13 seconds to go as Charlotte won its third straight at home.

NETS 113, MAVERICKS 96

Brook Lopez led Brooklyn with 38 points and Deron Williams had 31 in his first visit to Dallas since spurning his hometown team in free agency.

Williams scored 26 in the second half, repeatedly hitting shots and occasionally assisting on a basket by Lopez to prevent a Dallas rally in the fourth quarter.

SPURS 104, WARRIORS 93

Tim Duncan had 25 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four blocks, leading San Antonio to the win.

Tiago Splitter added 17 points, Manu Ginobili had 16 points and seven assists and fellow reserve Nando De Colo had 10 points for San Antonio (52-16), which is second to Miami (53-14) for the league’s best record.

Stephen Curry had 24 points for Golden State (39-31), which remains sixth in the West. Harrison Barnes added 13 points, Jarrett Jack had 14, David Lee finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

ROCKETS 100, JAZZ 93

James Harden scored 29 points to help Houston improved its positioning in the Western Conference playoff race.

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 1½ 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 has lost 10 of its last 13 games. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 27 points and Al Jefferson added 18 points and 11 rebounds.

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