Article

James leads Heat past Thunder

15 February 2013 07:35

LeBron James continued his impressive form in the NBA as Miami beat Oklahoma City on Thursday, while the Lakers lost to the Clippers.

At Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma, James had 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as the Heat beat the Thunder 110-100 in a contest between the two sides that met in the NBA Finals last season.

The clash was never really a contest, though, with the Heat dominating proceedings from the opening tipoff and the main interest after half-time surrounded whether or not James could increase his NBA-record run of games with at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting to seven.

James failed in his quest – he shot 14-of-24 from the field at 58 percent – but that mattered little as the Heat won for the seventh time in succession to increase their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 36-14 record.

The big three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh got the Heat off to a good start in front of a parochial Oklahoma crowd and 15-4 run at the end of opening term allowed them to take a commanding 32-17 lead into quarter-time.

That advantage was extended to 17 (63-46) at half-time and the Thunder failed to make any meaningful impression during the third stanza.

The Thunder did make a 6-1 start to the final term, but key buckets to Shane Battier, Norris Cole and James ensured the Heat held on.

While James will receive most of the plaudits for the victory, he did receive plenty of support from his team-mates.

Bosh had 20 points, while Ray Allen and Wade contributed 13 apiece in a good team performance.

Kevin Durant (40 points) and Russell Westbrook (26) combined for 66 of the Thunder's 100 points, but the rest of the team failed to make any meaningful contribution at the offensive end of the court.

Meanwhile at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Clippers never gave the Lakers a chance as they cruised to an impressive 125-101 victory.

The Clippers led by 14 (31-17) at quarter-time and any chance of a Lakers comeback was extinguished when Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups scored with ease during the third period as the margin blew out to 21.

The final term was a mere formality as the Clippers eased to their 39th success of the season and sent the Lakers falling to their 29th loss of the campaign.

Paul finished the contest with a game-high 24 points, while Griffin (22) and Billups (21) provided him with plenty of support.

Kobe Bryant top-scored for the Lakers with 20, while Dwight Howard was next best with 18.

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