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As defending champs and the clear top team in the East, the Miami Heat are the current favorites to win the NBA title. Since Feb. 3, the Heat have gone about proving as much, winning 15 straight games heading into Wednesday night's contest against the lowly Orlando Magic. Fans could be forgiven for assuming that Miami would have few issues pushing their streak to 16 wins.
That was not the case. After coming back from a 20-point early third quarter deficit, the Magic held a 96-95 lead with 12 seconds left, giving the Heat one last chance to pick up the victory. Not surprisingly, they want to LeBron James. Instead of settling for a jumper, LeBron crossed over rookie defender DeQuan Jones and drove to his left. The help was late, and James finished a one-handed lay-up at the rim with three seconds on the clock. Arron Afflalo's prayer missed, and the streak stayed intact.
Scoring a game-winner to cap off a night of 26 points on efficient shooting is a mark of LeBron's tremendous, mature play, but this basket was actually recalled his earlier years with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In those days, LeBron's big baskets towards the end of games were often drives to the rim. As we discussed on Monday, that's pretty rare. It's another reminder that, while James has been a different level of amazing this season, he's always been pretty phenomenal.
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