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Heat clinch early playoff berth, down slumping Sixers
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - The Miami Heat have already clinched a spot in the playoffs.
The Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter Friday to earn their 17th straight win, this time a 102-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers to mark the earliest date they have ever earned a postseason berth.
LeBron James totaled 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and scored six points on a pivotal run early in the final frame that turned a close contest into an inevitable outcome -- a 13th straight win over the struggling Sixers.
Dwyane Wade chipped in 22 points and Chris Bosh added 16 in the victory.
"We find ways to win," Wade said. "Everybody had a hand in it tonight."
Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 25 points, Dorell Wright followed with 14 and Spencer Hawes finished with 13 points and 10 boards in Philadelphia's 12th consecutive road loss.
Miami's largest lead in the first three quarters was four, but a 10-0 run early in the fourth, highlighted by James taking it to the rim on three different occasions, gave the hosts an 86-77 cushion.
Wade hit a jumper later on and Bosh stole the ensuing inbounds before banking one in for a 97-83 lead, and the Heat stayed in control over the final three minutes.
The win streak matches the Clippers' run from Nov. 28, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013 for the longest in the NBA this season.
Ray Allen beat the first-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer to give the Heat a 28-24 lead, but Miami trailed, 51-47, heading into halftime.
A tight third quarter ended with James connecting from long range for a 76-75 edge.
"I think that's what got (James) going, and they just kind of jumped on us in the fourth," Young said of the buzzer-beating three. "They got some easy looks that were just too easy."
The Heat next play on Sunday when they host the Indiana Pacers, who won in the previous two meetings earlier this season, including Miami's last defeat, on Feb. 1 ... With a win in the team's next game, Miami will have posted a victory over every team in the league this season ... The Sixers have dropped nine in a row in Miami ... Miami owned a 60-38 margin in points in the paint.
03/08 23:58:46 ET