MIAMI — One stingy defensive stretch was enough to carry the Miami Heat past LeBron James’ former team once again.Might have gotten the Heat prepped for a daunting road stretch as well. Dwyane Wade scored 26 points, James added 24 and the Heat said farewell to their home floor for nearly two weeks by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-91 on Tuesday night. Miami’s lead was only a point late in the third quarter, before the Cavaliers missed 17 of their next 19 shots and the Heat finally pulled away.
“It was definitely going to be necessary,” James said of the late defensive push, one that ensured Miami would beat Cleveland for the fifth time in six meetings since the two-time MVP left the Cavaliers for the Heat. “And that’s how we want to close out games.” Chris Bosh finished with 15 points for the Heat, who have won 11 of their last 13 games and stayed within a game of Chicago in the Eastern Conference race, both teams tied in the loss column with six. Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem each scored 14 for Miami, which starts a stretch of five road games in seven nights at Orlando on Wednesday, then caps the six-game trip with a visit to Cleveland on Feb. 17.
The Heat are 19-6, the best 25-game start in team history. “We just had to grind it out, grind it out — until it was our time to pull away,” Wade said. Antawn Jamison scored 25 points and had nine rebounds for Cleveland, which got 17 from Alonzo Gee, and 16 points, six rebounds and six assists from Kyrie Irving. Anderson Varejao had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who were outscored 29-19 in the fourth and got a 4 for 23 shooting night from their reserves.