MIAMI - Coming into Friday night, the Miami Heat were in a groove to say the least.
The Heat kept that groove going by extending their winning streak to 17 games with a 102-93 victory over the Sixers. The defeat was the Sixers’ 12th straight on the road.
Miami came in with the NBA’s fourth and ninth leading scorers in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The Heat also defend with some of the best. They allowed opponents 96.3 points per game entering Friday.
Yet at halftime, the Sixers, who had lost 10 of their last 11 games, were shooting 60 percent from the floor and were ahead, 51-47.
It didn’t last. The Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter to keep their streak alive and clinch a playoff berth with 22 games remaining on their schedule.
Miami’s 46-14 record is its best start through 60 games in franchise history. The win over the Sixers matched the Clippers’ 17-game winning streak for the longest this season.
The Sixers have now dropped 13 straight to the Heat and are 23-38 on the season.
Charles Jenkins made his first start as a Sixer, replacing Royal Ivey at the shooting guard spot. He scored just two points in 16 minutes (see story).
James pulled up for a three-point shot as time expired in the third quarter and his team down two points. Damien Wilkins had a hand in his face, but as he has shown all season long, James is too good. Through three quarters, James had 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists, as his team took a 76-75 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Follow the leader
James tied for the game-high in points with 25 points. Wade scored 22 points and Chris Bosh had 16. Ray Allen came off the bench for an additional 12 points.
Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 25 points. Spencer Hawes had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Heat continually got to the rim in the game. They outscored the Sixers 50-30 in the paint.
Take a bow
Dorell Wright continued his solid play with his sixth double-figure scoring performance in the last seven games. He scored 14 points against his former team on 5-for-10 shooting.
The Sixers get to see their old friend Nikola Vucevic, a former first-round draft pick of the Sixers in 2011 draft, when they face the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. Vucevic was sent to Orlando in the four-team trade last summer that brought Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia.
Since migrating south, Vucevic has found a place in the Magic’s starting lineup and is averaging 12.3 points and 11.4 rebounds. Wednesday night against the Heat, Vucevic scored 25 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in a one-point loss.
The Magic are 17-45 on the season and one of those wins came over the Sixers. Orlando handed the Sixers their most embarrassing loss of the season on Feb. 26, when it won 98-84.
That loss prompted Doug Collins’ infamous postgame press conference in which he said he had no idea why his team came out so inexplicably flat.