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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Heat lock up playoff berth


MIAMI — LeBron James arrived at work a little earlier than usual on Tuesday, warming up more than three hours before tip-off with hopes of finding his rhythm.

News photo
Too hot to handle: Miami's Norris Cole drives against Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young during the Heat's 99-93 win on Tuesday. AP

With Dwyane Wade out, Miami needed some extra offense — and James delivered.

James scored 14 straight Miami points in the fourth quarter and finished with a season-high 41, helping the Heat clinch a playoff spot with a 99-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

It was the 16th straight home win for Miami, which has won its last 11 regular-season games against the 76ers. The Heat also moved within 2½ games of Chicago in the race for the Eastern Conference's best record.

"It was a grind," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "No question, it was a grind."

Mario Chalmers had 19 points, Chris Bosh scored 17 and Udonis Haslem grabbed 11 rebounds for Miami, which improved to 9-1 without Wade this season. Wade sat with a bruised left knee, leaving his status for Wednesday's showdown with Oklahoma City in some doubt.

Evan Turner scored 26 points for Philadelphia, which fell 1½ games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division. Lou Williams scored 18, Spencer Hawes added 12 and Andre Iguodala had 11 before leaving in the third quarter with a left eye contusion.

It was just the fourth time in 24 games this season that the 76ers shot at least 45 percent and lost.

"We got right there . . . We just couldn't get over that hump," Williams said.

James scored 21 points after Iguodala — who was the primary defender on him — departed with 4:42 left in the third quarter. Iguodala was holding the ball as Chalmers tried swiping it away, but only wound up connecting with the face of the 76ers' guard. Iguodala went to the floor in pain, holding the area around his left eye, then eventually made his way to the Philadelphia bench and locker room with part of his face covered by a towel.

"I thought my eye was gone," Iguodala said. "It was hurting really bad. I had a really bad headache for about 10 minutes."

Lakers 91, Nets 87

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 24 points and rattled home a 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left, and the Lakers blew every bit of a 17-point lead before holding on for a victory.

Pau Gasol had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Ramon Sessions had 19 points and 11 assists as Los Angeles put an ugly finish on its 11th victory in 15 games despite never trailing in its eighth consecutive win over the Nets.

Pacers 112, Knicks 104

In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, and Indiana rallied from 17 points down in the second half to beat New York.

Grizzlies 98, Warriors 94

In Memphis, O.J. Mayo scored 19 points, Mike Conley added 18, and the Grizzlies overcame a lackluster performance with a fourth-quarter rally to defeat Golden State.

Pistons 102, Magic 95

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Greg Monroe had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit.

Suns 109, Kings 100

In Sacramento, Marcin Gortat had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Steve Nash added 18 points and 12 assists to help Phoenix defeat the Kings.

Spurs 125, Cavaliers 90

In Cleveland, Danny Green scored 19 points against the team that released him last season, and Tony Parker added 19 of his own.

Raptors 92, Bobcats 87

In Toronto, Andrea Bargnani scored 30 points, and DeMar DeRozan had 20.

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