(The Sports Xchange) – Miami, down by 13 points with eight minutes remaining, rode LeBron James to a dramatic 105-103 victory over the valiant Boston Celtics on Monday night. The result gave the Heat their 23rd consecutive victory, the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
Now only the 1971-72 Lakers and their 33-game streak are ahead of the Heat, who somehow managed to escape when it appeared the Celtics, playing without Kevin Garnett, were about to end the streak behind a career-best night by Jeff Green.
James, who tied the score with 1:23 left, scored 13 of his team’s final 22 points and hit a jumper with 10.5 seconds left to put the Heat ahead.
Miami’s Shane Battier then blocked a drive by Green out of bounds with seven seconds left. Boston’s Paul Pierce then missed a fall-away 3-pointer from the right corner. Miami’s Dwyane Wade grabbed the rebound and the comeback was complete.
“It means a lot to what we’re trying to build,” James said. “A tough-minded team on the road, it’s a hostile environment. We grew again tonight and that’s big for our team.”
Talking about what James did down the stretch, Battier said, “It’s just LeBron being LeBron. I don’t really have any other words that you guys haven’t already used before. He’s the best. “You never take that for granted. Shame on anybody that takes (James) for granted, because he’s a special talent.”
Exactly five years earlier, the Celtics ended Houston’s 22-game streak and they almost did the same thing to the Heat. But they scored just seven points in the final 8:26.
James, who has been on fire during this streak, finished with 37 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds. Mario Chalmers scored 21 points and Wade had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The win did away with Miami’s formality of clinching the Southeast Division.
Green, getting his second straight start, this time with Garnett sick, delivered the best offensive game of his career, scoring 43 points but none in the final nine minutes.
“Jeff was terrific,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after TD Garden fans starting chanting Green’s name during the game.
“Yeah, I heard it,” Green said. “It’s a good feeling, but you just got to stay in the game. Think about the next play.”
Rivers wasn’t satisfied with the close loss, saying, “I believed we were going to win the game before the game. I thought we were going to win the game during the game. And I thought we should have won the game.”