By Ben Golliver
Even without Dwyane Wade, who sat for the second straight game to rest his knee, Miami easily dispatched an Orlando team that pushed the Heat to the final seconds of their 16th straight win back on March 6. The Magic were missing Hedo Turkoglu (steroid suspension), Glen Davis (foot), Nikola Vucevic (concussion) and Arron Afflalo (hamstring), and their remaining pieces simply didn't have enough to contend with LeBron James, who finished with 24 points (on nine-for-16 shooting), 11 assists, nine rebounds and one steal in 39 minutes.
James and the Heat were once again guilty of coasting for stretches of the first half but they pushed out to a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, opening up the bag of highlight tricks in the process.
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game, Norris Cole took off in transition, leading a two-on-one break with James as Beno Udrih tried to get back, hedging away from the ball in hopes of guarding both players at once. Taking advantage of the resulting open path to the basket, Cole went to the rim but then opted at the last minute to loft up an alley-oop to James, who finished it with authority as his midsection knocked Udrih out of the way. This was't exactly James' bulldozing of Jason Terry, but it was still emphatic.
Was it even his best dunk of the night? See below and judge for yourself.
Miami improved its league-best record to 56-14. The Heat went four-for-four through an easy patch of games over the last week, defeating the Cavaliers, Pistons, Bobcats, and Magic, who together are the four worst teams in the Eastern Conference. Aside from a wacky game in Cleveland, there wasn't a whole lot of drama. Now just six games away from tying the 1971-72 Lakers at 33 straight wins, the Heat head to the United Center to face the Bulls on Wednesday night. Chicago, still without a rehabbing Derrick Rose, is just 4-5 over its last nine games, although they have won two in a row.
Here's James' other big dunking effort from Monday. He got loose with a little over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, taking a feed from Mario Chalmers in a slow-developing transition opportunity and flying to the rim with one dribble to throw down a hammer. Nobody got in the way on this one.Bottom video via YouTube user NBA