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Heat stay on course

Heat’s centre Chris Bosh lays up during the game against the Bobcats.

Heat’s centre Chris Bosh lays up during the game against the Bobcats.

MIAMI – Miami Heat, chasing the NBA record for longest winning streak and playing without second-leading scorer Dwyane Wade, kept their run alive by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 109-77 last night at the American Airlines Arena.

LeBron James had 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Heat, who have now won 26 consecutive games, seven short of the record set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.The Heat has also won 17 consecutive home games, one short of the franchise record. Wade, a shooting guard who is averaging 21.5 points, sat out due to a bruised right knee suffered in a previous game, possibly against the Boston Celtics.

The Dallas Mavericks pulled into a dead heat with the Utah Jazz by virtue of a 113-108 victory over Utah at American Airlines Center.†Dallas and Utah are both 34-36 with 12 games left in the regular season. The Los Angeles Lakers (36-34) are the team just ahead of both in the standings.

The Mavericks have at least put themselves in the postseason conversation by winning eight of their past 11 games. Dallas is trying to extend its playoff streak to 13 consecutive years.Utah is collapsing down the stretch. The Jazz, once sitting comfortably in the top eight, have lost four in a row and 12 of the past 15. Utah’s nine-game road losing streak is the organisation’s longest in three decades.

Rockets guard James Harden drilled a 16-foot jumper with 4.5 seconds left, lifting Houston to a 96-95 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

After making the inbound pass to centre Omer Asik, Harden immediately received the ballfrom Asik, worked around his screen, and sank the shot that pushed the Rockets ahead.Spurs forward Tim Duncan missed a game-winning attempt just prior to the buzzer as the Rockets averted a four-game season sweep against their in-state rivals.

Harden finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists.Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to score 45 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 103-83 victory over Portland.

The Thunder (52-19) went by 11 early in the fourth quarter before the Blazer’s Rookie Damian Lillard and Eric Maynor started knocking 3-pointers. They closed the gap to 86-81 with 6:34 left in the game.But that is when Oklahoma City’s defence hunkered down and took away the Blazers (33-37) open shots. Portland stopped going to LaMarcus Aldridge and relied on perimeter shots.

Missing four players, including three starters, against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that finally is almost healthy, the Chicago Bulls used their muscle to forge a 104-97 victory that reversed two trends.

Frontcourt mates Carlos Boozer (19 points) and Luol Deng (17) combined for 36 points and Nate Robinson supplied 22 points off the bench for the Bulls, who pounded a Wolves team essentially missing only Kevin Love on the backboards.

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