James gets 35, Heat top Suns 107-92
MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James was even more efficient than usual, which says plenty. Dwayne Wade attacked early, distributed late and capped his night with a pair of cartwheels.
Yep, it's going pretty good for the Miami Heat these days.
James scored 35 points on only 14 shots, Wade added 21 points and 12 assists and the Heat won their seventh straight game, beating the Phoenix Suns 107-92 on Monday night.
"The 12 assists was all my teammates, catching the ball, finishing," Wade said after his highest assist total since March 22, 2010. "And the cartwheels were all me."
The cartwheels- a nod to Wade's youngest son Zion, who does his gymnast act all over the family's home these days- were pre-planned, the latest "video bomb" where the Heat find a way to disrupt someone's postgame on-court interview.
It's about the only way James can be thrown off at this point.
He made 11 of 14 shots from the field, shot 11 for 11 from the foul line for the second time in a week- after doing that or better only four times in his first 10 NBA seasons- and capped his night with a trio of fadeaway jumpers that left him wondering why the Suns weren't double-teaming him.
"I'm in a very, very comfortable position right now with my game," said James, who's shooting 61 percent this season and became the first player this season to score more than 30 points while taking less than 15 shots.
Ray Allen scored 17 points and Chris Andersen added an 11-point, seven-rebound night for the Heat, who have won 10 of 11 since their 1-2 start.
Channing Frye led a balanced attack with 16 points for the Suns, who have dropped five of their last seven. Goran Dragic scored 14, Marcus Morris had 13, Markieff Morris and Gerald Green each added 12 and PJ Tucker finished with 10 for Phoenix.
"We were playing pretty decently for a while," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We just couldn't make any shots. The third game of a fourth night might have started to get us. We were open and we couldn't make them. ... To beat this team- they're a great team- you have to make those shots."
Coming into Monday, they and the Suns were the only NBA teams who hadn't been handed a double-digit loss. Phoenix can't say that any longer, after falling to the Heat for a seventh straight time.
Phoenix's six losses before Monday were by a total of 27 points, and this one was close until the early portion of the fourth quarter when Miami found a way to pull away- while James was getting another extended fourth-quarter rest, something Miami's had the luxury of doing often in recent games.
A 22-second flurry was all it really took. Allen made a 3-pointer off an assist from Wade, Roger Mason Jr. stole the ball from Phoenix's Archie Goodwin, and Wade set Allen up for another 3 with 9:56 left.
"That's the beauty of our team," Wade said.
With that, the lead was 87-73, the outcome pretty much decided. A trio of fadeaway jumpers by James late in the game- the first two swishing, the third one rattling off the rim a bit before falling- helped keep the Suns at bay.
Both teams were without their starting point guards. Mario Chalmers (strained hip flexor) was held out by Miami, and Eric Bledsoe (sore left shin) missed his fifth straight game for the Suns.
There was minimal separation between the teams in the opening 24 minutes, with a 3-pointer by James with 0.6 seconds left before the break serving as the difference as Miami took a 50-47 lead into halftime.
Miami's lead was only 73-71 with 2:35 left in the third quarter when Marcus Morris took a pass from Markieff Morris and made a 3-pointer.
For whatever reason, that's when the Heat found their best groove.
James scored the first four points of what became a quick 8-0 run for the Heat, giving Miami an 81-71 lead. And that little burst was enough; the Suns weren't within eight points the rest of the way.
"We fought," Frye said. "They're a veteran team- they've been playing together for three, four years now, some of them longer than that. They know where they're supposed to be. They know what plays work. And they have a couple of closers there at the end."
NOTES: Andy Garcia, Macklemore and Flo Rida were in attendance. ... Hornacek and Heat broadcaster John Crotty were teammates in Utah, chatting a bit before the game. ... Wade, handicapping which Heat player will eat the most food at the Thanksgiving dinner the team will share at James' home outside of Cleveland on Thursday: "Greg Oden." Wade said Joel Anthony used to be the front-runner in that department. ... Suns G Dionte Christmas once had a 29-point game on the Heat home court- for Temple, in the 2009 NCAA tournament, his last college game; the Owls held James Harden to nine that day but lost to Arizona State.
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