Philadelphia, PA – The Miami Heat became only the fifth team in NBA history to win 20 consecutive games after the defending world champions rallied down the stretch for a 98-94 decision over the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade once again led the way as Miami extended the league's longest victorious stretch since the 2007-08 Houston Rockets ripped off 22 in a row, with James accumulating 27 points along with eight assists and Wade contributing 21 points with eight rebounds.
The Heat's accomplishment didn't come easy, however, as the 76ers put forth a 12-0 fourth-quarter run to turn a nine-point deficit into an 85-82 lead with 4 1/2 minutes to play.
"It was a tough game for us and you could tell," said James afterward. "But we did enough at the end and we got enough stops."
Philadelphia was dealt its 13th defeat in 15 games despite a 24-point, 15- rebound effort from Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday's 21 points and seven assists. Evan Turner chipped in 15 points in the hard-luck loss.
"Our guys gave an incredible effort tonight," 76ers head coach Doug Collins stated. "They played very, very well, fought to the finish."
The Sixers trailed by as many as 13 points early in the second half and were down 82-73 with 7:23 left to play, but dominated the next three minutes to move in front.
Dorell Wright began Philadelphia's big tear with a 3-pointer followed by a steal and slam, with Holiday knocking down a triple with 5:31 remaining to send the Sixers ahead by an 83-82 score. Turner then converted a layup on the team's next possession to make it a three-point spread.
The Heat answered with a 7-2 spurt capped by a Ray Allen trey to take an 89-87 edge with three minutes to go, and the teams traded buckets until James hit 1- of-2 from the line for a 92-91 Miami lead with 1:12 left.
Holiday dribbled the ball off his leg on the ensuing possession, and Wade tipped home James' miss on the other end to push the Heat's cushion to three with 29.4 seconds remaining.
Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes then missed a open layup, with Wade grabbing the rebound and sinking two free throws to put the Sixers down further.
Wright buried a three with 18.9 seconds on the clock to bring Philly within 96-94, but James made a pair from the line right afterward to seal the Sixers' fate.
"We're in the process of just trying to win ball games, so this was good because we'll have these same moments again," said Wade about the game's finish.
Trailing by five just over four minutes into the second quarter, the Heat forged ahead via a 17-2 burst in which James racked up nine points, including a highlight-reel reverse slam that put Miami up 45-35 three minutes before intermission. A late Allen three sent the Heat into the break owning a 51-39 advantage.
The Sixers shot 55 percent in the third quarter to cut their deficit to 71-66 entering the fourth, with Young dropping 16 points during the frame to lead the comeback effort.
Miami's 20-game run is tied for the third-longest in league history, joining the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Capitols, who accomplished the feat between the 1947-48 and '48-49 seasons. It is also the longest streak ever by a defending NBA champion ... The Heat have now won 14 straight regular-season tests with the Sixers, seven of which have taken place in Philadelphia. The 76ers' last victory in the set occurred on Mar. 15, 2008 ... Young's double- double was his fourth in six games ... Miami went 23-of-27 from the foul line for the game, while the 76ers hit just 7-of-12 shots from the stripe.