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Heat 98, Cavaliers 95

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CLEVELAND -- It would have been the biggest upset of the NBA season. However, the defending NBA champion Miami Heat had other ideas.

MVP candidate LeBron James, who recorded a triple-double, took over in the fourth quarter, leading the Heat to a 98-95 victory over the upset-minded Cavs on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Heat (53-14) extended their winning streak to 24 games in a row, second longest in NBA history.

Miami hasn't lost since Feb. 1 -- a span of 47 days.

The Cavs (22-46) were playing without Kyrie Irving (sprained left shoulder), Dion Waiters (sore left knee) and Anderson Varejao (knee surgery). However, they led by 27 points, 67-40, with 7 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Heat trailed by nine points after three quarters, 77-68. However, James scored 11 of their first 12 points to take control of the contest. He recorded a triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists -- all game highs.

Cavs forward Tristan Thompson buried two free throws with 44.1 seconds left, which pulled the Cavs to within one point, 96-95.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade missed an 18-footer with 26 seconds left. Cavs forward Alonzo Gee grabbed the rebound.

Cavs guard Wayne Ellington misfired on a 20-foot jumper in the waning seconds. The ball bounced out of bounds with 5.2 seconds left. After a video review, the refs gave the ball to the Heat.

James went to the line with 4.7 seconds left, and made both free throws. Swingman C.J. Miles' 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer.

The Cavs played the Heat tough in all three games this season. The three losses were by a combined nine points.

Guard Mario Chalmers added 17 for the Heat, while Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Wade all had 11.

Ellington had a team-high 20 points for the Cavs, while Thompson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Center Tyler Zeller had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Cavs pummeled the Heat on the boards, 42-34. They shot 45.7 percent from the field, compared to Miami's 44.4 percent.

The Heat outscored the Cavs, 34-22, in the third quarter, an ongoing problem for the Cavs all season.

The Cavs closed the first half on a 23-3 run. They outscored the Heat in the second quarter, 23-10. They extended their lead at halftime to 21 points, 55-34. The 10 points were a season low for the Heat in a quarter this season. They also shot just 4 of 16 from the field for 25 percent.

Wade and Chalmers each had seven points for the Heat in the first half.

Miles had 10 points in the second quarter for the Cavs, who were shooting 50 percent at halftime. However, Miles didn't score again. Zeller had seven points, nine rebounds and a block in the first half.

The Cavs shot a blistering 56 percent from the field in the first quarter, as they sped out to a 32-24 lead. Center Marreese Speights drained an 18-footer at the first-quarter buzzer.

Thompson had a game-high 10 points and three rebounds in the first quarter.

James had six points and three assists for the Heat, including two dunks.

The beginning of the game was delayed 35 minutes because condensation was coming off the side of a CO2 container on the scoreboard, which was causing moisture on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena.

The scoreboard was lowered and the problem was corrected. The game started at 7:45 p.m. ET.

NOTES: James was impressed with his dunk in the Boston game on Monday when he completely ran over Celtics guard Jason Terry. He said Terry has been doing a little too much talking as of late. "I've had a chance to (see) it, and it was one of my better ones," James said. "The fact that it happened to J.T. made it that much sweeter. Because we all know J.T. and he talks too much sometimes, I'm glad it happened to him." Cavs coach Byron Scott's opinion differs from J.T. "Unlike Jason Terry, I am impressed," he said. ... James can't shake the feeling he got in his first game back at Quicken Loans Arena. Cavs fans put on a memorable display of hate toward their former hero. "It can't get any worse than Year 1: Dec. 2, 2010," he said. James said his first game back was "different." He said he's not sure if the Cleveland fans have moved on from "The Decision." "I haven't spent much time in Cleveland," James said. "I'm back home in the summer time. I've moved on. They have some really good pieces here and they are trying to move on, as well." He said he has good memories when he enters Quicken Loans Arena. "(The) memories come back, of course," James said. "I had some really good games here. A lot of memories come back." He must have known the question about him possibly returning to the Cavs in free agency in the summer of 2014 was coming. Predictably, he wouldn't go there. "I'm focused on right now," he said. "I don't focus on the road ahead. I live in the moment. As a team we're focused on defending our championship." ... The short-handed Cavs signed point guard Chris Quinn from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League for the remainder of the season.
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