BOSTON — LeBron James and the Miami Heat escaped Boston with their 23rd win in a row. All that’s in front of them now is the NBA record for consecutive victories.
Five years to the day after the Celtics snapped Houston’s winning streak at 22 games, James scored 37 points and made the go-ahead basket with 10.5 seconds left in Miami’s 105-103 victory on Monday night.
After overcoming the largest deficit they’ve faced during their streak, the only team left for the Heat to catch is the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 in a row.
“It means a lot,” James said. “I know the history of the game. To be sitting in second place right now … for us to be there and doing it the way we want to do it, it means a lot.”
Jeff Green scored a career-high 43 points for Boston, which was without Kevin Garnett for the second straight game. Paul Pierce had 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Celtics, but he missed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left that could have given Boston the win. Instead, the defending NBA champions won a regular-season game in Boston for the first time in 11 tries.
“This was a passionate game, a lot of history between the two teams,” said Miami forward Shane Battier, who played for the Rockets when their 22-game win streak ended on March 18, 2008, and was with the Heat when they knocked Boston out of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. “Not that it’s playoff intensity … nothing’s like the playoffs.”
James added 12 assists, and Mario Chalmers scored 21 for Miami, which has not lost since Feb. 1.
“It’s a special opportunity that we have with this group and you don’t want to take it for granted,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.