MIAMI, Florida, March 21 – Chris Bosh scored 29 points and LeBron James added 20 to spark the Miami Heat to a 14th consecutive NBA home triumph, a 99-95 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
Dwyane Wade added 19 points and Udonis Haslem came off the bench to contribute 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds for Miami.
The Heat improved to 34-11, stretching their Southeast division lead over Orlando to six games and remaining second overall in the Eastern Conference.
Miami went 13-of-16 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, but trailed 90-80 before ending the game on a 19-5 run to secure the victory.
Miami has not lost at home in two months but the Suns, led by 19 points from Grant Hill, had won 11 of their past 14 games and tested the Heat into the final minutes.
The Suns defeat saw them fall to 23-23, 10th in the Western Conference, and broke a four-game winning streak.
Meanwhile, even with reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose missing his fourth game in a row with a groin strain, the Chicago Bulls were far too much for the Orlando Magic to handle.
Carlos Boozer scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while John Lucas came off the bench to contribute 20 points, and Britain’s Luol Deng added 14 points to power the Bulls to a record-setting 85-59 rout of the Magic on Monday night.
The Bulls improved their league-best record to 38-10 and boosted their record without Rose this season to 10-4. Orlando fell to 29-18 while Chicago improved to a league-best 19-6 on the road this season.
“We needed this win,” Lucas said. “It was a good road win for us.”
Despite 18 points and 12 rebounds by Dwight Howard, the Magic scored the fewest points ever against the Bulls in a regular-season game, lowering the old mark of 62 by Milwaukee in 1997 when Michael Jordan sparked Chicago’s defense.
“We’re all about defense,” Lucas said. “We know we have enough firepower.”
And that’s with playmaker Rose watching from the bench and inspiring his teammates before the games.
“Derrick comes to us every game and says, ‘It’s time. Let’s go. Just because I ain’t playing doesn’t mean we’re going to lose.'”
Boozer scored 16 points in the first half and Deng added eight as Chicago took a 48-33 half-time lead and the Magic never threatened in the second half.
Rose suffered the groin injury last Monday in a victory over the New York Knicks when Asian-American sensation Jeremy Lin blocked a first-quarter Rose shot attempt.
“I haven’t been able to run in a couple days, just making sure that my leg is OK and making sure that the pain goes away very quickly,” Rose said. “You don’t want this to linger where I can’t move. Every day it’s definitely getting better, but I haven’t been able to run.”
Rose expects to miss Chicago’s three more games this week and has no idea when he might be back on the court.
“They say with an injury like this, they don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Rose said. “I thought I was going to be back sooner. I’m missing big games that I hate to miss.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is not taking any chances with the playoffs still more than a month away.
“We’re not going to rush him back,” Thibodeau said. “We want him to be completely healthy. We think that’s important.”
Rose has no problem with doctors taking a conservative approach to the injury but said being benched is aggravating.
“It has definitely been frustrating,” Rose said. “This is the most I’ve ever been injured in my life. The biggest thing is just staying strong mentally. We’re playing good right now.
“It’s definitely hurting me, but I’m keeping a positive attitude.”