Miami, FL – The way the Miami Heat are going, they may have home-court advantage locked up in the Eastern Conference by the end of the month.
Dwyane Wade had 23 points, six assists and five steals in Miami's 98-81 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
LeBron James was just 3-of-11 from the floor, but added 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Heat, who matched the fifth longest winning streak in NBA history.
"Leading with our defense has been the key for us," Wade said. "When we come out defensive-minded from the beginning of the game, it gets us into the game, it gets us on the offensive end, we're moving the ball. We have been playing well offensively all year, but defense is the key."
With a win Wednesday against the 76ers in Philadelphia, Miami will become just the fourth squad to win 20 in a row.
The 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks and 1947-48 through 1948-49 Washington Capitals both had 20-game winning streaks and the 2007-08 Houston Rockets won 22 consecutive contests. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers hold the all-time longest winningest stretch at 33.
Josh Smith tallied 15 points and six boards for Atlanta, which has dropped seven consecutive contests against Miami.
"Their team is really moving the basketball, they are playing together, they are playing at a very, very high level right now, and they're really good right now. We just got beat by a really good basketball team," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said.
Smith's hook shot pulled the Hawks within 41-40 midway through the second, but a 12-2 Heat run helped the hosts seize control of the contest. Mario Chalmers hit a pair of 3-pointers during the surge, which was capped on a Chris Bosh jumper for a 53-42 Miami advantage with 1:32 left in the stanza.
Miami took a 57-44 edge into the break and 79-65 margin into the final frame, where the margin reached its peak at 22.
Earlier, the Heat jumped out to an 18-8 start before heading into the second with a 26-18 cushion. A 10-2 Atlanta flurry helped the visitors knot the tilt at 28-28.
Chalmers finished with 14 points and five helpers, while Bosh chipped in 14 points ... Atlanta turned the ball over 24 times, which led to 27 Miami points.