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Friday, April 6, 2012
LeBron, Durant duel as Heat top Thunder
MIAMI — LeBron James twisted his ankle falling over a videographer, got smacked in the back by a referee, took what he thought was excessive contact twice while attempting dunks and dealt with more pain from his injured left ring finger.
All worth it by night's end.
James had 34 points and 10 assists, Dwyane Wade scored 19 points and the Miami Heat rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-93 on Wednesday night to extend the NBA's longest home winning streak this season to 17 games.
The Heat were down 11 in the second quarter before getting a boost from two hard Oklahoma City fouls, the second being Russell Westbrook pulling James down from behind on a fast break.
And if this was a 1-on-1 battle for the NBA MVP, then advantage James. Kevin Durant scored 30 points for the Thunder, but had a career-high nine turnovers.
"You take the personal challenge," James said.
Mario Chalmers scored 13 points, and Chris Bosh had 12 for Miami (39-14), which moved within two games of Chicago (42-13) in the race for the NBA's best record. Oklahoma City fell to 40-14.
Westbrook scored 28 points for Oklahoma City, but like Durant, he also had his struggles, shooting 9 for 26. James Harden had 12 for the Thunder, who lost despite holding Miami to 37 percent shooting.
"We could have played a lot stronger," Durant said, "but you have to give credit to Miami."
Durant had two shots late that would either have given Oklahoma City the lead or pulled the Thunder into a tie. He backed James down with about 1:30 left and the Heat up by one, then tried a turnaround that caromed off the top of the backboard. Later, with it still a one-possession game out of a timeout, the Thunder went for the quick 3, but Durant's try to tie hit the front of the rim and went out of bounds.
Wade made a pair of foul shots, stretching the lead to five, and it was soon over.
"It was a physical game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "I like that. I'm sure they like it. Neither team backed down."
Lakers 113, Clippers 108
In Los Angeles, Andrew Bynum scored 36 points, Kobe Bryant added 31 and the first-place Lakers widened their Pacific Division lead to 2½ games over the second-place Clippers and snapped their rival's winning streak at six games.
Spurs 87, Celtics 86
In Boston, Tim Duncan had 10 points and 16 rebounds and San Antonio won its ninth straight game, recovering after blowing a 17-point, first-half lead against the Celtics.
Bucks 107, Cavaliers 98
In Milwaukee, Monta Ellis scored 16 of his 30 points in the final 5 minutes for the Bucks.
Pacers 109, Wizards 96
In Washington, Danny Granger scored 20 points, and Indiana won its third straight game, shooting a season-high 58 percent.
Mavericks 95, Grizzlies 85
In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points and the Mavericks used a big fourth-quarter run to beat Memphis.
Suns 107, Jazz 105
In Salt Lake City, Steve Nash hit two shots in the final 14 seconds and Phoenix won its seventh straight meeting against Utah to jump over the Jazz in the Western Conference playoff race.
Warriors 97, Timberwolves 94
In Minneapolis, David Lee had 31 points and eight rebounds for Golden State.
Hornets 94, Nuggets 92
In New Orleans, Eric Gordon scored 15 points in his first action in three months, capping the performance with two free throws in the final seconds.
Raptors 99, 76ers 78
In Philadelphia, Andrea Bargnani scored 24 points and DeMar DeRozan had 18.
Trail Blazers 101, Nets 88
In Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and nine rebounds and the Trail Blzaers rallied after surrendering the lead in the fourth quarter.
Hawks 120, Bobcats 93
In Atlanta, Josh Smith scored 24 points and Jeff Teague added 17.