LeBron's 41 lead Heat past 76ers

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 03, 2012
LeBron James scored a season-high 41 points, Mario Chalmers added 19 and the Miami Heat clinched a playoff spot with a 99-93 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. James scored 14 straight Miami points in the fourth quarter, helping the Heat finish a four-game season sweep of Philadelphia and extend their home-court winning streak to 16 games. Chris Bosh scored 17 points and Udonis Haslem grabbed 11 rebounds for Miami, which won despite Dwyane Wade sitting out with a bruised left knee. Evan Turner scored 26 points for Philadelphia, which fell 1 1/2 games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division. Lou Williams scored 18, Spencer Hawes added 12 and Andre Iguodala had 11 before leaving in the third quarter with a left eye contusion. Miami improved to 9-1 when Wade doesn't play this season. He bruised his left knee in Sunday's loss at Boston, though the Heat are hopeful he will be ready for Wednesday's showdown with Oklahoma City -- which will come on a huge night in South Florida, with the Miami Marlins opening their new $515 million ballpark a few miles away against the reigning World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Shane Battier started in Wade's place, and the Heat made another change to the starting lineup, with Ronny Turiaf getting the start at center over Joel Anthony. Before the game, Sixers coach Doug Collins lamented how his team had the misfortune of playing Miami twice already this season in games immediately following Heat losses. And in both of those games, Miami made statements: winning 99-79 on Feb. 3, then running out to a ridiculous 57-30 halftime lead on March 16 before escaping with an 84-78 victory. And with the combination of the loss in Boston on Sunday, and the looming Wednesday game with Oklahoma City, Collins figured the Heat would try to put the 76ers away early. Of course, when he said that, he also thought Wade would be playing. So even with James shooting 9 for 12, his best first-half shooting effort in nearly a month, and Chalmers recording just his second double-digit-scoring first half in Miami's past 19 games, the Heat trailed 54-51 at the break. Philadelphia shot 53 percent in the opening two quarters, held an 11-6 edge in fast-break points and got 15 points before intermission from Turner. Philadelphia managed only two field goals in the first six minutes of the third quarter, the second of them a baseline drive and dunk by Iguodala, but largely survived the drought. Iguodala's dunk cut Miami's lead to 66-61, but his night quickly took a bad turn. With 4:42 left in the third, Iguodala was holding the ball as Chalmers tried swiping it away but wound up connecting with the face of the 76ers' guard. Iguodala went to the floor in pain, holding the area around his left eye, then eventually made his way to the Philadelphia bench with part of his face covered by a towel. After a few moments there, he went to the 76ers' locker room for further evaluation. At that point, Miami led 68-64. Soon, the Heat had what was then their biggest lead. James had six points in a quick 8-2 spurt that pushed Miami's edge to 76-66 with 2:23 left in the third. Midway through the fourth, the 76ers said Iguodala had a left eye contusion and his return was questionable. Even without him on the floor, so was the outcome. Williams' jumper with 2:27 left got Philadelphia within three, the closest margin since early in the third quarter. But James made a pair of jumpers, and after Battier sprawled out for the ball and extended a Miami possession, Chalmers found James for an alley-oop dunk that put the Heat up 92-85 with 1:27 left. NOTES: Heat President Pat Riley was sitting with actor Michael Douglas, a longtime close friend. ... It was milestone night for the Heat. Chalmers got his 1,000th career assist, Turiaf got his 500th career block, and Haslem passed Alonzo Mourning for No. 1 on the franchise list in defensive rebounds. ... Philadelphia won the first 11 meetings with the Heat. Miami has now won the last 11 regular-season matchups between the clubs, 15 out of 16 when adding in last year's opening playoff round. ... Tuesday's game was the 110th Wade has missed because of injury in his career.
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