Heat win 26th straight, top Bobcats 109-77 | Inquirer Sports
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Heat win 26th straight, top Bobcats 109-77

/ 09:11 AM March 25, 2013

Miami Heat’s LeBron James celebrates after the Heat defeated the Charlotte Bobcats during a NBA basketball game in Miami, Sunday, March 24, 2013. The Heat won 109-77 for their 26th victory in a row. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

MIAMI – LeBron James finished with 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds as the Miami Heat won their 26th straight game, cruising to a 109-77 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Some of the world’s best athletes were courtside Sunday. Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked men’s tennis player. Wladimir Klitschko, the world heavyweight boxing king. Rory McIlroy, who sits atop the golf rankings for at least one more night.

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And James responded with another sterling performance, making 11 of 14 shots while helping Miami move within seven wins of matching the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the league record of 33 in a row.

Norris Cole scored 15 and Ray Allen added 14 for the Heat, which played without Dwyane Wade, held from the lineup because of right knee soreness that the team believes is minor.

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After overcoming yet another slow start, Miami begins a four-game road trip in Orlando on Monday, a swing that will also take the Heat to Chicago, New Orleans and San Antonio.

Charlotte led by 11 in the early going and was within five in the third quarter, but two huge spurts by the Heat were more than enough to put the game away. Miami used a 31-6 run in the first half to erase the deficit, and a 26-5 blitz in the second half finished the job.

Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 20 points, and Gerald Henderson had 18.

James departed with about 8 minutes left, after perhaps the highlight of the night. Chris Andersen blocked a layup attempt by Walker, doing so with such force that the ball caromed right back into play and basically started a Miami fast break on its own. James capped the sequence with a spectacular dunk, his final points of the night.

Djokovic clapped and smiled. McIlroy — who could lose his No. 1 ranking if Tiger Woods holds on and wins at Bay Hill on Monday — turned toward Heat owner Micky Arison and grinned. Klitschko’s facial expression was one of disbelief.

By then, the only order of business was for some fans to sing “Happy Birthday” to Chris Bosh, which happened with about 3 minutes left. He turned 29 Sunday.

NOTES: Play was briefly delayed in the third quarter because of some power-outage issues involving the scoreboard and game clock. Bosh spent some of the stoppage leading a group of fans in a cheer. … The Bobcats needed a police escort to get to the arena from their hotel, since that particular section of downtown Miami also had a large crowd of people clogging streets for an outdoor electronic music festival. … Heat forward Juwan Howard was in uniform, his first time on an active roster since Game 5 of last season’s NBA Finals, and played the final three-plus minutes for the debut appearance of his 19th season. He made his only shot.

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