New lineup, same result against the Philadelphia 76ers.
With Dwyane Wade sidelined with a bruised left knee and Ronny Turiaf moved into the starting lineup in place of Joel Anthony, the Miami Heat still did what they always do against the 76ers:
Exit smiling, with LeBron James creating most of those smiles on his season-high 41-point night.
Extending their home winning streak to 16, the Heat got the best of James in a 99-93 victory Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena to make it 11 consecutive regular-season victories over the 76ers, a team they also defeated 4-1 in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
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James put it away by scoring 14 consecutive Heat points late in the fourth quarter.
“Knowing that one of our top scorers is not in uniform, I knew I had to pick it up offensively and take control of the game,” said James, who ended a run of nine consecutive games below 30 points, the first time that has happened since his second season.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said loading up on James’ offense wasn’t necessarily the game plan, but the productivity was embraced.
“He was able to get aggressive and make some tough plays at the end of the clock and we needed it,” Spoelstra said. “With Dwyane out, we knew he would have to shoulder more.”
With James dominant and point guard Mario Chalmers adding 19 points, the Heat helped ease some of the sting of Sunday’s road embarrassment against the Boston Celtics.
With the victory and the New York Knicks’ loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Heat clinched a playoff berth. The 76ers, by contrast, are now 9-15 since opening the season 20-9, 3-10 in their last 13 road games.
As for the lineup change, Spoelstra said it wasn’t a case of benching Anthony.
“It certainly was not an indictment on Joel Anthony,” he said. “And we still need to iron some things out. Obviously, he will be a big part of what we’re doing.”
Turiaf played 22:32 and closed with six points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. He said he did not know about the switch until Tuesday.
“I’m not here to ask questions,” he said.
Anthony played 6:08, scoreless with one point. It was Anthony first appearance as a reserve since Game 3 of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals against the Celtics.
“We’ll iron it out as we get the next few games heading into the playoffs,” Spoelstra said when asked if the shift was permanent. “The second layers of our rotation, there’s still some things I want to look at.”
The game turned with 4:42 to play in the third quarter when, in transition, Chalmers accidentally caught 76ers forward Andre Iguodala in the left eye, called for a foul on the play.
In the wake of that stoppage, the Heat got a fastbreak dunk from Chris Bosh off a James feed, with James then converting a 3-pointer for a 73-64 lead. Bosh closed with 17 points and five rebounds.
“Some of those possessions at the end of the offense possibly would have been a little more competitive,” Spoelstra said of Iguodala being lost for the balance of the game, closing with 11 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.