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Miami stretch winning streak to 25 games

PHOENIX--His Miami Heat team is 25 games into the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, and the fact that they have fallen behind by double digits in three straight games does not seem to bother the superstar forward. “I'd rather finish strong,” LeBron James said, “than start fast and finish weak.”

James did the former Friday night, putting up 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the Heat's 103-89 victory over the Detroit Pistons at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami is closing in on the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' NBA record win streak of 33 in a row. Miami's 25 wins have come in a span of 48 days.

The biggest obstacle to the Heat breaking the Lakers' record appears to be a March 31 date at San Antonio. Before that, a trip to Chicago could be tough. An April 2 date with their rivals, the New York Knicks, is another potential roadblock.

The Heat play a stretch that includes, in order, Charlotte, at Orlando, at Chicago, at New Orleans, at San Antonio, the Knicks and at Charlotte.

If the Heat clear all those hurdles, they could tie the record with a home win over Philadelphia April 6 and break the mark with a home game against Milwaukee (April 9).

“It's crazy,” James said of Miami's streak.

The Pistons, meanwhile, have lost 10 games in a row, the longest active losing streak in the league. Detroit was led by Greg Monroe, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds.

Detroit led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, but that was nothing to a Heat team that this week rallied from 17 down to beat Boston and from 27 down to subdue Cleveland.

The Heat trailed Detroit 54-51 at halftime but surged ahead by outscoring the Pistons 22-14 in the third quarter.

At Orlando, Florida, Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and Russell Westbrook had 19 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder ended a two-game losing streak by beating the Magic 97-89.

Maurice Harkless scored 25 points and Jameer Nelson had 16 for Orlando, which lost its sixth straight.

New York clinched a playoff berth as Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points and Kenyon Martin added 19 points and 11 rebounds in the Knicks' 99-94 win over the Toronto Raptors.

The defeat was a double blow for Toronto, which lost for the 11th time in 15 games and saw forward Rudy Gay leave in the second with a sore back. He did not return.

Alan Anderson scored a career-high 35 points, DeMar DeRozan had 18 and Jonas Valanciunas 10 for the Raptors.

San Antonio's Tony Parker had 22 points in his return from an eight-game absence and Tim Duncan added 19 points and 16 rebounds as the Spurs sent the Utah Jazz to their third straight loss 104-97.

Kawhi Leonard added 21 points, including five in overtime, and Danny Green had 15 points for San Antonio, which remains 21/2 games ahead of Oklahoma City in the West.

Mo Williams scored 23 points, Al Jefferson had 18 and Alec Burks 14 for Utah.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Shawn Marion had a double-double in his return from a calf injury to spoil Jason Terry's return to Dallas with a 104-94 win over the Boston Celtics.

Terry scored eight in his first game in Dallas since leaving for Boston in free agency.

The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-93 for their second road win in as many nights and the Indiana Pacers downed the Milwaukee Bucks 102-78 for their third straight win.

In other games, the Houston Rockets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-78, the New Orleans Hornets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 90-83 and the Minnesota Timberwolves were 117-86 winners over the Phoenix Suns.

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