76ers can't keep up with Heat in 102-93 loss

Posted: March 10, 2013

MIAMI - For three quarters, the 76ers looked as if they might accomplish what no team in the league has for the better part of five weeks: Beat the Miami Heat.

But in LeBron James, Miami has a player that affects games in so many different ways that the Heat can never be counted out. They feed off what he does, and on Friday, as the Heat extended their franchise-record winning streak to 17 games with a 102-93 victory, James struck with subtlety.

Facing a spirited 76ers team that desperately wanted to end a streak of its own, James, who finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, sank a three-pointer with time running out in the third quarter that gave the Heat a 76-75 lead.

The Sixers, who led by nine at one point in the third (58-49), would lead just once more after that three by James. Miami extinguished its chance of a season highlight with a 17-4 run that put the game out of reach at 93-81. It was the Sixers' 12th straight road loss.

"Our guys fought tonight," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of his 23-38 team, now eight games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, currently held by Milwaukee. "They did a tremendous job. The Miami Heat are a great team. That's what great teams do. They ratchet it up on you, and they take the game. That is what championship teams have always done.

"I could not ask any more of our guys," Collins continued. "LeBron James was just superior tonight."

But not for all of it.

In fact, the Sixers, who have not won on the road since beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 1, were very much in this game for most of the evening. With Thaddeus Young scoring 25 points; Spencer Hawes adding 13 points, 10 rebounds, and a pair of blocks; Jrue Holiday finishing with 13 assists and nine points; and Dorell Wright and Damien Wilkins adding 14 and 12 points, respectively, the Sixers were competitive.

But after scoring at least 24 points in each of the first three quarters, the Sixers managed just 18 in the fourth against Southeast Division-leading Miami (46-14). The Heat also forced the 76ers into five of their 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

"They got us to commit some turnovers, and they got a couple of easy ones in the open court, and that is how they break your back with that defense," Hawes said. "If you are going to turn it over, then you might as well kick it 10 rows into the stands against them."

Dwyane Wade, who has been playing at a very high level, but in James' shadow, finished with 22 points for the Heat, who became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. Chris Bosh added 16, and Ray Allen and Shane Battier finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.

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