It was back to LeBasics on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. A more mundane mask for LeBron James. A routine victory over the Orlando Magic. And for the Miami Heat, the winning continued, this time with a 112-98 victory that extended the winning streak to seven and lifted the record to 10-1 since the start of February. While LeBron James shifted from the black superhero-esque mask he wore in Thursday's blowout victory over the New York Knicks to a more opaque one, he continued his midseason push for a third consecutive Most Valuable Player award. "He was just clear-mask guy," center Chris Bosh quipped. "Just a regular citizen of Gotham tonight." This time, only the magnitude of the rout, and not the nose he broke a week ago against the Oklahoma City Thunder, limited James' performance, as he closed with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, nine rebounds and seven assists, not needed for the fourth quarter after the Heat took an 89-73 lead into the final period. "When you come out and take care of business, that's the reward," James said of the short night's work. James was supported by a rejuvenated Dwyane Wade, who added 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting. "He's just in a great rhythm," James said, "and it starts with his health." Then there was Bosh, who was limited to 17 points and 18 total minutes by foul trouble. "I got a lot of night-off jokes," Bosh said. "I enjoyed it." There also were a season-high eight points off the bench from center Greg Oden. "He's just been steady," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You see what he brings to the table, that size." As for James, he played as if the nose was fine, which it's still not. "It's getting better every day," he said. "It's still tender." Spoelstra said he has not seen a change in James' approach in his two games back. "It's another challenge for a great player," he said. "I'm sure that's how he views it. His game is an aggressive one. Coming off that injury, he's been as aggressive as he's been before." With the victory, the Heat swept the four-game series for the second consecutive season, with the Magic protecting their lottery odds by leaving guard Arron Afflalo back in Orlando with an ankle ailment. The Magic now have lost 17 of their last 18 road games. The Heat struggled early with their defense, or at least with indifference, with the Magic within 32-30 at the end of the opening period and 61-53 at halftime. But even with Bosh picking up his fourth foul early in the third period, the Heat were able to push their lead to 20 in the period and that was that.
Heat send clear message in 112-98 rout of Magic
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Mar 2