March 17 (The Sports Xchange) -Heat 108, Raptors 91
The Miami Heat were given a bit of a scare in the fourth quarter by the Toronto Raptors before winning their 22nd consecutive game on Sunday to tie the second longest winning streak in NBA history.
The Heat built up a 16-point lead in the first half but the Raptors chipped away and tied the game early in the fourth quarter before Miami pulled away down the stretch to win 108-91.
Miami are now tied with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets in second place with 22 straight wins in the NBA. Only the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 in a row, remain ahead of them.
Dwyane Wade had 24 points for Miami while LeBron James had 22. Rudy Gay and Amir Johnson were responsible for most of the Raptors scoring. Gay had 27 while Johnson had 18 to go along with 18 rebounds.
Toronto tied the game at 77-77 when Gay hit a pair of free throws at 11:08 in the final quarter, but the Heat responded with 12-straight points, including a highlight-reel dunk from Wade off a half-court lob from Norris Cole.
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Bucks 115, Magic 109
Monta Ellis scored 25 points, including five 3-pointers, in the fourth quarter as the Bucks rallied late for a 115-109 victory over Orlando at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Ellis finished with 39 points, along with six rebounds and five assists, to help Milwaukee snap a three-game losing streak.
Along with Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings scored 15 points with 14 assists and Larry Sanders had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Aaron Afflalo led Orlando with 24 points while Maurice Harkless added 23. Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and Jameer Nelson finished with 16 for the Magic.
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Clippers 93, Knicks 80
It took the Los Angeles Clippers a little while to shake the cobwebs against the injury ravaged New York Knicks at Staples Center, sloshing about through a sluggish first half before waking up in the third quarter to finally take control.
The result was a 93-80 get-through-it victory in which the Clippers played down to the Knicks in the first half but had more than enough to pull away when needed.
The Knicks, once again playing without stars Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire, did what they could to hang around, but when push came to shove in the second half, they simply could not match the firepower of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the litany of Clippers weapons at hand.
Paul, efficient as usual, hit 6 of 12 shots and finished with 20 points and eight assists. Griffin had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
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Warriors 108, Rockets 78
Buoyed by the sharpshooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors fended off a desperate Rockets rally to claim a critical 108-78 win.
Curry and Thompson combined for 55 points thanks largely to 14-for-20 3-point shooting as Golden State (38-30) maintained its grasp on sixth place in the Western Conference standings.
Curry and Thompson were especially clutch in the third quarter, thwarting the Rockets (36-31) several times to stall what was developing into a riveting comeback.
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Timberwolves 97, Hornets 95
There was no question that the Minnesota Timberwolves missed Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic when the frontcourt duo missed games because of injury. On Sunday night, the two showed their importance as Timberwolves rallied for a 97-95 victory over New Orleans Hornets.
Pekovic made two free throws that gave Minnesota the lead for good, and Kirilenko blocked shots on each of the Hornets' final two possessions. Both Minnesota players saw action for the first time this month.
The result was a much-needed victory for the Timberwolves, who had dropped two in a row and 10 of 12. New Orleans has lost eight of 10.
Derrick Williams led Minnesota (23-41) with 28 points and seven rebounds, while Ricky Rubio added 16 points and Pekovic had 13.
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Thunder 107, Mavericks 101
Russell Westbrook's 35 points paced Oklahoma City's three-pronged attack that proved too much for the Dallas Mavericks to overcome in the Thunder's 107-101 victory at American Airlines Center.
Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City improved to 50-17 - the franchise's third 50-win season since relocating from Seattle.
The Thunder are one game behind San Antonio (51-16) in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City has already clinched a playoff berth.
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Hawks 105, Nets 93
Al Horford had 22 points and Josh Smith added 21, eight of which came on high-flying dunks, leading the Atlanta Hawks to a huge 105-93 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
The victory enabled the Hawks to improve to 37-29, just a game behind the Nets (38-28) for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.(Editing by Julian Linden)