MIAMI, February 1 – LeBron James, who had led Cleveland to 40 victories by February 4 last season, helped Miami deal the Cavs their 40th defeat of the current NBA campaign on Monday.
Dwyane Wade scored 26 of his 34 points in the first half and James finished with 24 points and eight assists as Miami trounced Cleveland 117-90.
It was the Cavaliers’ 21st straight defeat — as many as they lost in the whole 2009-10 season when James was fashioning a Most Valuable Player season in Cleveland.
Cleveland edged closer to the NBA’s record for a single-season losing streak of 23 games, set by the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies and matched two seasons later by the Denver Nuggets.
"I have nothing bad to say about the players that I left and the team," James said before the contest. "I wish the organization the best. And I wish the fans, more than anything, the best because we had a lot of great years together."
The Cavaliers showed their heart and some skill, rallying from a 19-point deficit in the first half to close the gap to 70-67 in the third quarter.
But James contributed nine points in a 19-5 Miami scoring run at the end of the third period and the Heat never looked back.
Miami improved to 34-14 and moved within 2 1/2 games of Boston for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, fell to a league-worst 8-40.
"We just keep fighting. That’s all you can do," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "You’ve got two choices, either you’re going to fight or you’re going to lay down. I don’t think we have any guys that will just lay down.
"We don’t on the coaching staff. So we’re just going to keep fighting and keep working every day."
Monday’s game was the third time Miami and Cleveland have met since James jilted the Cavaliers for the Heat.
The hype surrounding their clashes has died down.
"The first two were kind of crazy, but now both teams went their separate ways," Scott said. "Obviously they’re doing extremely well and we have been hit with the unbelievable injury bug and all kind of other stuff that has happened.
"I think it is just a game right now and I think that’s how both teams look at it."