CLEVELAND — LeBron James scored 25 points as the Miami Heat overcame a 27-point deficit in the third quarter and won their 24th straight game, 98-95 over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
The Heat are within nine games of matching the record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
James and his teammates have insisted the record isn't one of their goals, and for more than 30 minutes the defending champions seemed disinterested and on the verge of losing for the first time since Feb. 1. Miami trailed 67-40 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
But behind the irrepressible James, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists, the Heat inched closer to history by matching the biggest comeback in the NBA this season, according to STATS.
James had 14 points in the fourth as Miami completed its second straight comeback. The Heat rallied from 17 down — 13 in the fourth quarter — to beat Boston 105-103 Monday night and snap a tie with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
Although the Cavs were missing All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao — their top three scorers — they pushed Miami to the limit.
It wasn't until James, playing his fourth game back in Cleveland since leaving as a free agent in 2010, made two free throws with 4.7 seconds left that Miami could relax a little. The Cavs had one last chance to tie it, but C.J. Miles was long with a 3-pointer in the final second, letting Miami off the hook.
Grizzlies 90, Thunder 89, OT
At Memphis, Tenn., Marc Gasol tipped in Zach Randolph's miss with less than a second left in overtime, lifting the Grizzlies to the win.
In a game that had all the intensity of a playoff matchup, Jerryd Bayless connected from the top of the key for Memphis with 3.7 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 83. Bayless had 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Knicks 106, Magic 94
At New York, Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points to lead New York over Orlando after missing the previous three games with a knee injury.
Hawks 98, Bucks 90
At Atlanta, Jeff Teague scored 27 points and Al Horford had 26, taking control after a sluggish first quarter to lead Atlanta past Milwaukee.
Bobcats 107, Raptors 101
At Charlotte, N.C., Byron Mullens scored 25 points, Gerald Henderson had another solid all-around game and Charlotte beat Toronto to win consecutive games for the first time since mid-November.
Nets 113, Mavericks 96
At Dallas, Brook Lopez led Brooklyn with 38 points and Deron Williams had 31 in his first visit to Dallas since spurning his hometown team in free agency.
Williams scored 26 in the second half, repeatedly hitting shots and occasionally assisting on a basket by Lopez to prevent a Dallas rally in the fourth quarter.
Hornets 87, Celtics 86
At New Orleans, Anthony Davis outreached Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green for a last-second tip-in, and the Hornets snapped a four-game skid.
Davis, who missed the morning shootaround with an illness, finished with nine points and eight rebounds. Ryan Anderson scored 21 points and Eric Gordon had 18 for the Hornets.
Clippers 101, 76ers 72
At Los Angeles, Chris Paul scored 19 points, Caron Butler added 14 and the Clippers bounced back on the second night of back-to-back games.
Paul also had nine assists and six rebounds while Blake Griffin had a relatively quiet showing with seven points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Clippers were without Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe, who were sidelined by injuries.
Spurs 104, Warriors 93
At San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 25 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four blocks, leading San Antonio to the win.
Tiago Splitter added 17 points, Manu Ginobili had 16 points and seven assists and fellow reserve Nando De Colo had 10 points for San Antonio (52-16), which is second to Miami (53-14) for the league's best record.
Rockets 100, Jazz 93
At Houston, James Harden scored 29 points to help Houston improved its positioning in the Western Conference playoff race.
Jeremy Lin added 24 for the Rockets, who currently hold the No. 7 spot in the West. They lead the idle Los Angeles Lakers by 11/2; games and are three ahead of the sliding Jazz.
Wizards 88, Suns 79
At Phoenix, John Wall scored 19 points and Washington picked up its first victory at Phoenix in more than six years.
Nene had 17 points and eight rebounds, Kevin Seraphin added 16 points and Trevor Ariza scored 14 for the Wizards, who won for the fourth time in five games.