Heat use late run to top 76ers 99-79
By DAN GELSTON
PHILADELPHIA (AP) With LeBron James running the show, Miami ran the Sixers out of their building.
Dwyane Wade scored 26 points, and James had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lift the Miami Heat to a 99-79 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.
Needing a jumpstart in the fourth, James shifted to point guard, sparking a dominant late run that put away the pesky Sixers. James led a makeshift lineup that included Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller to a 15-0 spurt in the quarter. It turned a tight one for 36 minutes into a comfortable victory and handed the Sixers just their third home loss of the season.
Wade used a pair of ferocious dunks during the game-changing run that pushed the Sixers' first sellout crowd of the season toward the exits.
"When he's out there and we're all on the same page on what we're running offensively," Wade said, "it makes us a dynamic team."
"Tonight was probably the best game from start to finish, as far as playing hard and communicating on both ends, that we had all season," James said. "So it was a good win."
James scored a season-high 40 points in a loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday night. The Heat held a tough practice Thursday in Philadelphia to get back on track. The Heat went broke down all aspects of the team via film and some honest communication.
"It was no-holds barred, no tongues being held," James said. "If we're going to be held to a championship standard, we need to go out and play like it. No one can take things personal if someone says something to him. We've got to take constructive criticism."
Thaddeus Young scored 16 points for the Sixers, who snapped a four-game winning streak.
The Sixers opened the week with wins against Orlando and Chicago. The Heat squashed the home-week sweep.
Miami's 113-92 win on Jan. 21 was Philadelphia's only double-digit loss of the season. Entering the fourth, duplicating that feat seemed out of reach.
Unlike the Sixers, the Heat can turn to their stable of stars to crank up the pressure.
Wade started the run easily enough with free throws. Haslem and Miller buried mid-range jumpers, James followed with a 3 and the game changed in a hurry.
The Sixers (12-3 at home) had grown used to the confetti gun blasting off after each victory. By the time they dusted off the seldom-used inspirational movie scene video reel, it was too late. Wade, Bosh and James were headed toward the bench, another win over the Sixers in the books.
"They started to crank it up and we took a few bad shots," Young said. "We went cold and didn't play together. We knew there would be some rough times, but we'll be OK. We know we're a good team. There won't be any heads down."
The Heat played in Philadelphia for the first time since they blew a six-point lead with 95 seconds to play in Game 4 of their opening round playoff series. Jrue Holiday hit a late 3 that sliced the deficit to one and Lou Williams made the go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the arc over a lunging Wade with 8.1 seconds left for an 86-82 win.
"Our first-round series against them was arguably the toughest, outside the finals," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game.
Last season, opening round. This season, something deeper?
The Sixers had stamped themselves as a rising threat in the East. The Heat couldn't shake the upstart Sixers in front of 20,694 fans and never led by more than seven in the first half.
The Sixers have done serious damage this season in the third quarter, putting teams away with big runs and tough defensive efforts. The Bulls scored 11 points in the third Wednesday. The Magic scored only nine points Monday.
The defense was as tight as usual, limiting the Heat to 16. The offense (6 of 18) never got going.
"The third quarter was a grind out," Wade said.
Bosh's putback ended an 0-for-10 start to the third for the Heat for a two-point lead. While the Heat struggled, the Sixers couldn't capitalize. Elton Brand and Tony Battie, two frontcourt starters, both went scoreless.
Andre Iguodala, who has cranked up his numbers when the Sixers need him most, continued with the clutch stops. He intercepted a pass from Wade into the post and drove the length of the court for a monster one-handed jam that had fans jumping out of their seats. But he went only 4 for 10 from the floor for 10 points.
The Sixers could never take the lead in the third and that cost them in the final minutes. James scored the last eight points of the third, including a long jumper that made it 67-63. Iguodala buried a 50-footer that was waved off after review.
Philadelphia's winning streak was put to rest in the fourth.
"They just overwhelmed us in the fourth quarter," coach Doug Collins said. "They put a push on us and we didn't have any resistance, so credit to them."
Notes: The Heat only made 11 of 20 free throws. They made up for that number with just nine turnovers. ... The Sixers missed eight of their first nine shots in the third quarter. ... Brand was scoreless for the fifth time in 823 career games and third time as a Sixer. ... Former 76er Rick Mahorn, TV personality Jane Pauley, cartoonist Garry Trudeau and actress Mary Carey were all at the game. ... Not counting playoffs, the Heat have won nine straight over the Sixers.
Updated February 3, 2012