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Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013

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The Heat is on: Heat guard Dwyane Wade prepares to take a shot against the Wizards on Sunday in Miami. The Heat won the contest 99-71. AP

Heat's improved effort on boards leads to win


MIAMI — The Miami Heat hit the boards from the start and pulled away at the end.

Chastened by a rare home defeat, Miami had a rebounding advantage for a change Sunday and scored the final 21 points to beat the woeful Washington Wizards 99-71.

The Heat were coming off only their third home loss of the season Friday against Chicago. They allowed the Bulls 20 second-chance points, but Washington totaled just four.

Miami, beaten on the boards by a total of 38 rebounds over the previous three games, this time enjoyed a 50-39 advantage. Udonis Haslem had 12 rebounds and Chris Bosh added nine.

"There were some better in-traffic battles, guys going up and trying to get it with two hands, guys getting up off the ground," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That disposition to rebound was better. It's an effort thing."

The game matched the teams with the best and worst records in the Eastern Conference, and in the late going it looked like it. Miami scored the final 21 points and held Washington scoreless over the last 7:07.

"The defense came alive," LeBron James said. "We understand that if we want to win, ultimately we have to defend."

James scored 24 points, extending his streaks of scoring at least 20 to 32 consecutive games this season, and 53 in a row including last year's playoff run.

James launched into a long jump in dismay when his dunk was waved off because of a Wizards foul. He gave the Heat a scare when he tweaked his left ankle and limped away from a scrum after drawing a foul, but he stayed in the game.

And there was no slackening in his scoring pace. He shot 9 for 17 and had seven assists.

The Wizards (4-28), last in the NBA in points and shooting, clanked a succession of open shots and hit 36 only percent. They lost their fifth game in a row and fell to 0-13 on the road against Eastern Conference teams.

Miami improved to 16-3 at home and now embarks on a six-game trip.

"We're going to see where we're at," Bosh said. "Trips are always a test."

Thunder 104, Raptors 92

In Toronto, Russell Westbrook scored 23 points, Kevin Durant had 22 and Oklahoma City beat the Raptors to get off to a winning start to a stretch that sees them play their next 11 of 13 on the road.

Pistons 108, Bobcats 101 (OT)

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Kemba Walker had 20 points and seven assists, Ben Gordon scored 18 points and Charlotte beat Detroit in overtime for just its second win in 21 games.

Nuggets 112, Lakers 105

In Los Angeles, Ty Lawson had 21 points and 10 assists, Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points and hit a big 3-pointer with 13.8 seconds left, and Denver won for the fifth time in seven games.

Grizzlies 92, Suns 81

In Phoenix, Zach Randolph scored 21 points and Rudy Gay added 20 to lead Memphis.

Tony Allen scored 11 and Marc Gasol had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who have won three of their last five games.

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