Heat hope to make Magic, shoot for 27 in a row
Walt "Clyde" Frazier doesn't think the Miami Heat are a part of NBA lore when he was asked about their incredible run recently on a New York radio station.
According to the Hall of Famer and former New York Knicks star: "I think they're the best team in the NBA, but I wouldn't call them a great team. I wouldn't rank them anywhere near the top 10 best teams ever."
There are several ways to argue and defend that statement, but the Heat could probably care less and are just rolling right now with 26 wins in a row. They will try to move closer to the NBA's benchmark for consecutive victories Monday night against the rival Orlando Magic at Amway Center.
Of course all of the comparisons to the NBA's greatest teams are beginning to surface for a scorching-hot Miami squad that hasn't tasted defeat since Feb. 1 on the road against the Indiana Pacers. The Heat are 12 1/2 games ahead of Indiana and New York for the East's top seed with 13 to play and appear headed for the best record in the league at 55-14. San Antonio (53-17) and Oklahoma City (52-19) are doing their best to keep pace.
The Heat, who will begin a four-game road trip against the Magic, posted their 17th straight win at home with Sunday's 109-77 drubbing of the Charlotte Bobcats. Even without Dwyane Wade due to a sore right knee, Miami won every quarter and put the Bobcats out of their misery with a 36-20 advantage in the final 12 minutes. LeBron James continued his surge during the streak with 32 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals, while Chris Bosh and Norris Cole netted 15 points apiece.
Ray Allen added 14 points in the win. Miami, the Southeast Division champions, is closing in on the 33-game winning streak set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who had Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West on the team.
"I think it is on everyone else's radar now with just where we are being in second place all time in most consecutive wins," said James, who's averaging more than 26 ppg during the run. "For us, we want to just continue to play our game and continue to play the opponents on our schedule."
The Heat will also visit Chicago, New Orleans and the Spurs on the upcoming road trip and have prevailed in their last 12 road games. Miami, which owns a 23-11 road ledger this season, is 14-7 on the road against the East and last won 13 in a row as the guest back in 2010-11. The franchise record for consecutive road triumphs is 14 set from Nov. 19-Dec. 29, 1996.
Meanwhile, Wade will most likely be a game-time decision Monday and is second on the team with 21.5 ppg.
Orlando has played Miami tough in both losses this season and will surely give the Heat all it has to offer. The two Southeast inhabitants will close out the regular season April 17 in south Florida.
The Magic and Heat have split the previous 12 meetings between the teams, and Orlando guard Jameer Nelson is ready for Monday's challenge.
"They get every team's best shot. They've been winning different ways: close games, blowing some teams out, having great comebacks and doing some good things," Nelson said. "It will be a good challenge for us tomorrow. Again we played them twice so far and played them pretty good. So, we'll see."
Nelson, who was a part of a 27-game winning streak in college at Saint Joseph's, has a good feeling the Amway Center will be packed with fans wanting to see the streak. As Nelson put it: "We have nothing to lose; they have everything to lose."
Speaking of losing, the Magic have dropped six in a row and eight of their last nine games. They were last in action in Friday's 97-89 setback to the Thunder in the opener of a quick homestand. Rookie Maurice Harkless scored 25 points and pulled down nine rebounds and Nelson added 16 points and 10 assists for the Magic, who are 10-26 at home and lost guard Arron Afflalo in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn was pleased with his team's effort in keeping up with one of the league's best teams. Orlando tied the game at 86-86, but OKC responded with an 11-3 run.
"It's just an unbelievable overall effort from every guy," Vaughn said. "As a coach you want to be proud of your team and what they're doing. Tonight's effort typifies who we want to be."
Orlando is 2-9 against teams from the Southeast, including a 1-5 home mark, and is winless in the last two in front of the home crowd. After entertaining the Heat, the Magic will play six of seven on the road.
Magic center Nikola Vucevic is doubtful versus the Heat with flu-like symptoms and a mild concussion. The second-year big man has missed back-to-back games and is posting averages of 12.4 points and 11.5 boards this season.