MIAMI – It’s not a LeBron James winning streak. It’s a Miami Heat winning streak.
If there was any confusion on that point, the reigning NBA champions might have cleared that up Sunday night.
Mario Chalmers scored 26 points, Chris Bosh added 24 and the Heat won its 18th straight game, easily topping the Indiana Pacers 105-91 – even with James scoring a season-low 13, yet clearly helping control play with seven assists and six rebounds.
That’s the thing about our team, Chalmers said. We can click on all cylinders.
The streak ties the seventh longest in NBA history, and is the league’s best since the Boston Celtics won 19 straight in November and December 2008.
We just did what we’re supposed to do, said Dwyane Wade, who added 23 points and six steals for Miami. Win at home.
Ray Allen added 11 for Miami (47-14), which now has a victory over every NBA team this season. The Heat had been 0-2 against the Pacers.
When you can win like this, we can go home, we can breathe easier, food tastes better, it makes life a lot better, Allen said. That’s the goal and I’m sure everybody in this locker room will say the same.
David West scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for the Pacers, who fell nine games behind Miami in the Eastern Conference standings. Roy Hibbert scored 15, D.J. Augustin had 14 and Paul George scored 10 for Indiana.
The Heat held a 27-15 edge in points off turnovers and finished the game shooting 56 percent compared with 41 percent by Indiana.
We didn’t compete from the opening tip, West said. I just don’t think we brought enough competitive fire. LeBron James has 13 points and these other guys – Chalmers has 26 – it’s just not enough. We didn’t compete enough. You can’t beat a team like that in their building as well as they’re playing without competing.
Chalmers needed only nine shots to get his 26 points, going 5 for 6 from three-point range and making all seven of his free throws.
Miami led by nine after the opening quarter, the second-largest deficit the Pacers faced after 12 minutes all season. Indiana hardly folded; the Pacers used a 24-14 run to get within two when West scored with 2:57 left before the half. The margin was still only six in the final minute before intermission.
But the Heat couldn’t have scripted a better final 6.9 seconds of the half. After a deflection sent all the defensive matchups askew, James found himself being guarded 1-on-1 by Hibbert, so he drove past the 7-foot-2 center for a slam. Wade then stole the ball from George near midcourt with about 3 seconds left, took a couple dribbles and hit a 12-footer over Hibbert’s outstretched arm as time expired, giving Miami a 56-46 lead at the break.