Heat Extend Streak...Howard Victorious in Return to Orlando 3/13/13
UNDATED - It was another victory for the Miami Heat, and a triumphant return for Dwight Howard.
The Heat picked up their 19th straight win as Dwyane (dwayn) Wade scored 23 points in a wire-to-wire victory over Atlanta 98-81. LeBron James chipped in 15 points, one more than Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers.
The winning streak ties the fifth-longest in NBA history. Only three teams have won 20 straight in the same season.
At the same time, the NBA playoffs seem to be taking shape, with familiar teams like Miami, Oklahoma City and San Antonio solidifying their positions as post-season fixtures.
In Orlando, Howard scored a season-high 39 points and had 16 rebounds in his return, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-97 win over the Magic. Howard was booed throughout the evening and tied his own NBA record by attempting 39 free-throws, making 25.
Kobe Bryant finished with just 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting, but the Lakers still picked up their fourth consecutive victory.
San Antonio followed Monday's impressive win over Oklahoma City by losing big in Minnesota, 107-83. Ricky Rubio had his first career triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as the Timberwolves cut the Spurs' lead in the West to 1 ½ games over the Thunder. Stephen Jackson had 14 points for the Spurs, who left Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard at home to rest.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Zach Randolph had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Memphis topped Portland 102-97. Marc Gasol scored a team-high 20 points in the Grizzlies' fifth straight win.
Brook Lopez contributed 26 points and Brooklyn coughed up a 10-point lead before beating New Orleans 108-98. Deron Williams had 21 points and 13 assists as the Nets won for the fourth time in five games.
Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 35 points and Charlotte ended a 10-game losing streak by blasting Boston 100-74. Ben Gordon scored 17 points and new starting forward Josh McRoberts had his first double-double for the Bobcats with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Vince Carter hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 23 points off the bench as Dallas outscored Milwaukee 115-108. Dirk Nowitzki added 19 points in the Mavericks' fourth straight win.
Dion Waiters scored 20 points and Alonzo Gee added 17 in Cleveland's 95-90 downing of Washington.