NBA: Heat flexes muscle in blowing out Bulls

2013-02-22T00:00:00Z NBA: Heat flexes muscle in blowing out BullsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CHICAGO - Just in case the message isn't getting through, the Miami Heat are more than happy to repeat it. The championship still is in their hands and good luck trying to pry it away.

The Heat won their season-high ninth straight Thursday night with an 86-67 win over the Chicago Bulls behind LeBron James' 26 points, and supplied more evidence that they're ready to put away the rest of the Eastern Conference.

More important, they're looking like a team that's poised to defend their championship.

"We all had a vision of how this team was going to really operate together, but there is no limit," Chris Bosh said. "We can continue to get better. We can continue to play better together. Our defense can continue to improve. If we want to win in the postseason, it's going to have to."

They sure are looking good at the moment. They blew out Oklahoma City on the road before the All-Star break and followed it up with a win at Atlanta on Wednesday before taking out the Bulls.

James also had 12 rebounds and seven assists in another big performance after ending his franchise-record seven-game streak of scoring at least 30 the previous night.

Dwyane Wade added 17 points, and the Heat took control in the first half, sending the Bulls to their fifth loss in seven games.

Chicago set a season low for points while committing a season-high 27 turnovers, the most for the Bulls since they had 29 against Washington on Dec. 4, 2004.

"We're putting together some good basketball right now," James said. "We're defending. We're creating turnovers. We're winning the turnover game offensively. We're the best shooting team in the league ... so if we don't turn the ball over, we get good shots at the rim, we could also have a good chance to win."

Nate Robinson scored 14 points for Chicago but also committed five fouls with Kirk Hinrich sitting out because of ongoing trouble with his right elbow.

• Spurs 116, Clippers 90: In Los Angeles, Tony Parker had 31 points and seven assists as San Antonio routed the host Clippers.

Danny Green added 15 points for the Spurs, who outscored Los Angeles 34-21 in both the first and third quarters.

San Antonio has won five in a row and is an NBA-best 44-12. The Clippers had their four-game winning streak snapped.

Matt Barnes led Los Angeles with 18 points.

Trade deadline moves

NEW YORK - There was no eye-catching activity left for deadline day, resulting in minor deals Thursday to the disappointment of those hoping for a frenzy.

Josh Smith stayed put and the Boston Celtics' core stayed together, leaving J.J. Redick, dealt to Milwaukee, as the biggest name to be traded.

There were nine moves, nothing approaching a blockbuster and none to jump-start the Lakers.

The Celtics did make one deal, acquiring guard Jordan Crawford from the Washington Wizards for center Jason Collins and injured guard Leandro Barbosa.

Some of the other trades that were made Thursday:

• Golden State sent forward Jeremy Tyler to Atlanta and guard Charles Jenkins to Philadelphia in separate deals.

• Orlando traded Redick along with center Gustavo Ayon and reserve point guard Ish Smith to the Bucks in exchange for guards Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih, and forward Tobias Harris.

• The New York Knicks traded Ronnie Brewer to Oklahoma City to open a roster spot that will be used to give Kenyon Martin a 10-day contract.

• The Hawks settled for sending Anthony Morrow to Dallas for Dahntay Jones.

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