The Miami Heat ran their winning streak to 20 games Wednesday night, though only after a struggle against the downtrodden Philadelphia 76ers.
LeBron James, who had 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, hit the go-ahead free throw with 1:12 left, and Dwyane Wade added four of his 21 points in the closing seconds to lift Miami (49-14), to a 98-94 victory.
The Heat became only the fifth team in NBA history to win at least 20 straight. The others were the 1971-72 Lakers (33), the 2007-08 Rockets (22), the 1970-71 Bucks (20) and the 1947-48/1948-49 Washington Capitols (20), whose streak spanned two seasons.
The Heat also ran its winning streak over Philadelphia to 14.
Thaddeus Young had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Sixers (24-40), who lost for the sixth time in seven games and the 13th time in 15 games. Jrue Holiday had 21 points and seven assists.
The Heat held an 80-70 lead with 8:56 left, but the Sixers scored 15 of the game's next 17 points to go up 85-82 with 4:38 to play. Holiday drilled a pair of 3-pointers in that run, the first after falling to one knee and righting himself, and Dorell Wright added five of his 13 points.
Miami stormed back to claim an 89-87 lead on Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 3:11 to play. The Sixers tied it on Evan Turner's basket, and after Chris Bosh dropped in a layup with 2:30 left, Holiday stormed down the lane and dunked on James to forge the night's last tie, at 91-91.
James then began the game-ending 7-3 run by making his free throw. Wade tipped in James' miss with 29.4 seconds remaining, and added two free throws with 22.3 seconds to play. After Wright's 3-pointer cut the gap to 96-94, James sank two more foul shots with 18 seconds left.
The Heat outscored the Sixers 23-6 over the last 7:46 of the second quarter to take a 51-39 halftime lead. James had nine points in that run, two on a spectacular reverse dunk, and Shane Battier knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.
The Sixers cut the gap to 71-66 after three quarters behind Young, who notched 16 of his points in the period.
Turner finished with 15 points for the Sixers. Allen had 12 and Bosh 10 for Miami. Chris Andersen also scored 10 for the Heat.
NOTES: Wade had recorded a steal in his previous 23 games, a career high. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called him "one of the most impactful players at that position (i.e., shooting guard) in the history of the game" at the defensive end of the court. ... Sixers coach Doug Collins marveled before the game about the "great chemistry" between Wade and James. "You can see they really like each other ... which makes it an even bigger plus," Collins said. "And they bring out the best in each other." ... While Spoelstra speaks regularly with Miami president Pat Riley, he said they "never" discuss the winning streak. Riley played on the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won an NBA-record 33 straight. ... Sixers guard Nick Young, who missed the previous seven games with an ankle sprain, returned in a reserve role.