MINNEAPOLIS — Alonzo Mourning never did it. Shaquille O’Neal didn’t, either. Even Dwyane Wade had never won 15 games in a row as a member of the Miami Heat.
The Heat have had their fair share of stars come through South Beach over the last 25 years, none of them as bright as LeBron James.
Wade had 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, James shrugged off a sore left knee to score 20 points and grab 10 rebounds, and the Heat earned their franchise-record 15th straight victory, 97-81 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
“Any time you get an opportunity set a record, it’s great for the organization and the guys involved,” James said. “But we want to keep going. We want to keep winning each game by itself. We don’t talk about the streak, we just go to the next game and play it out. We look forward to the next one.”
Chris Bosh added 11 points and nine rebounds, and James played 35 minutes despite being listed as a game-time decision with a twisted left knee.
Derrick Williams had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves, and Ricky Rubio had 14 points, eight assists, six steals and five rebounds. J.J. Barea had four points on 1-for-11 shooting and was ejected in the fourth quarter after getting a Flagrant-2 foul for a hit on Heat guard Ray Allen.
Minnesota was down six points with eight minutes to play when Barea was ejected. Miami then went on a 17-5 run.
Officials initially ruled it a Flagrant 1, but changed the call upon review, eliciting strong protests by Barea and Wolves coach Rick Adelman, who also got a technical foul.
Adelman was furious after the game, alluding to an incident two weeks ago against Golden State in which Wolves center Greg Stiemsma was hit in the chest by a forearm shiver from Jarrett Jack, but was given a Flagrant-1 and allowed to keep playing.
“Why is that a Flagrant-2 foul tonight, and the other night Jarrett Jack hit Stiemsma in the stomach with a forearm that was a Flagrant-1?” Adelman said. “I would just like to know the difference. That changed the whole game.”
Allen immediately got up from the foul and rushed at Barea, but players from both sides stepped in and broke up the confrontation.
“It just came out of nowhere,” Allen said. “I thought it was uncalled for. There’s no place for that in this game.”
Barea was jawing at Allen as he left the court and said he expected the league to change the call today.
“I’ve been playing in the NBA for seven years,” Barea said. “I get hit harder than that every night. I don’t get up crying and want to fight.”