LOS ANGELES − Two nights after having the NBA’s second-longest winning streak snapped at 27, LeBron James and the Miami Heat started another one.
James buried six straight threes en route to 28 of his 36 points in the first half, and the visiting Heat clinched the top seed in Eastern Conference playoffs after squashing the New Orleans Hornets 108-89 on Friday.
“I made a couple and kept it going,” said James, who finished 7-of-10 from behind the arc before sitting out the final quarter.
“When you’re having one of those nights you try to keep it going. I felt good and wanted to ride that heat wave.”
With Miami already ahead by seven, James outscored the Hornets 23-12 by himself over the next five minutes 35 seconds spanning the first and second quarters, hitting eight straight shots, including six triples for a 47-27 cushion.
“When a guy gets on a roll like that there’s nothing you can do,” teammate Dwyane Wade said. “It’s a special time, you want to see him keep going. It was exciting.”
Wade scored 17 points, Norris Cole added 12 and Chris Bosh 10 for the Heat, who shot a sizzling 61 per cent from the field in a dominating performance following Wednesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.
“After winning 27 straight and losing one, it’s easy to lay an egg tonight but we came out with great energy,” Wade said. “That just shows our team is focused.”
With the lopsided win, the defending NBA champions warmed up for an Easter Sunday showdown against the Western Conference-best San Antonio Spurs.
“It’s always good to play the best,” James said. “The game Sunday doesn’t define our season or how we go from there. We just want to move forward and continue to get better.”
Ryan Anderson scored 20 points for the Hornets, who won the previous six home meetings against the Heat.
San Antonio Spurs 104, LA Clippers 102: Tim Duncan scored a season-high 34 points, including the game-winning three-point play with 2.2 seconds left, lifting the Spurs over the visiting Clippers.
Minnesota Timberwolves 101, Oklahoma City Thunder 93: Montenegrin Nikola Pekovic had 22 points with 15 rebounds, Spaniard Ricky Rubio scored 17, and the Timberwolves beat the visiting Thunder for just the second time in the past 17 games despite Kevin Durant’s game-high 36 points.
Boston Celtics 118, Atlanta Hawks 107: Jeff Green scored 27 points, while Pierce had a triple-double with 20 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Celtics clipped the visiting Hawks, who received 19 points from Mike Scott.
Memphis Grizzlies 103, Houston Rockets 94: Zach Randolph and Spaniard Marc Gasol scored 21 apiece, and the Grizzlies won their 11th in a row at home after holding Rockets’ James Harden to just seven points − 19 below his season-average.
New York Knicks 111, Charlotte Bobcats 102: J.R. Smith poured in a season-high 37 points, Carmelo Anthony added 32, leading the Knicks to their season-high seventh straight win after beating the league-worst Bobcats, who received a career-high-tying 35 points from Gerald Henderson.
Utah Jazz 105, Portland Trail Blazers 95: Mo Williams erupted for 26 of his 28 points in the second half, and the Jazz went on a late 19-3 run to trim the Trail Blazers and snap a season-high nine-game road skid.
In other games: Denver Nuggets 109, Brooklyn Nets 87;Orlando Magic 97, Washington Wizards 92; Philadelphia 76ers 97, Cleveland Cavaliers 87;oronto Raptors 99, Detroit Pistons 82.