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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — LeBron James scored Miami’s final 17 points in a furious one-man rally, finishing with 37 as the Heat pulled out a 101-98 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Monday night.
In a game the Heat never led until the final 51 seconds, James willed them to their 10th straight victory over the Nets. With Dwyane Wade resting, James scored those 17 points over the last 4:48.
Chris Bosh had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Heat, carrying them early in the fourth until James checked back in midway through the period and turned what appeared a certain loss into a stunning victory.
Kris Humphries scored 29 points and MarShon Brooks had 24 for the Nets, who played without Deron Williams and lacked the finisher they needed against one of the NBA’s best.
Miami won for the sixth straight time in New Jersey, a road game in name only. James heard loud “MVP! MVP!” chants, and he earned all of them no matter where the game was.
The Nets led by 13 points in the third quarter and were still up seven with under 2 1/2 minutes left, but James was almost midway through his finishing kick.
He finally gave the Heat a lead with a driving basket that made it 97-96 with 51 seconds left, then followed with a short jumper for a 99-96 edge with the crowd chanting “Let’s go Heat!” Two free throws with 10.6 seconds followed for a five-point lead before a meaningless basket by Brooks with 0.4 seconds to play.
The Heat, also resting Shane Battier and Ronny Turiaf, won their third straight after consecutive losses.
The Nets held a small lead for the first two-plus quarters before seizing control with a 16-5 burst. Humphries made a couple of jumpers, Gerald Green hit two 3-pointers, and it was 74-61 on Brooks’ jumper with 3:10 remaining in the third period.
The Heat answered with nine straight points to cut it to four, but the Nets came right back with five straight, with Green nailing a turnaround 3-pointer from the corner just before the buzzer to send New Jersey to the fourth quarter with a 79-70 lead.
Bosh scored Miami’s first eight points of the fourth as James sat the first half of the period, giving him all the energy he needed for the final stretch.
The Nets were also without Gerald Wallace (strained left hamstring) and turned to a lineup heavy with NBA Development League experience that was nearly good enough.
Smoke lingered over the court during the game’s opening minutes after fireworks, but it was the Heat who were in a fog. New Jersey made seven of its first 11 shots and took a six-point lead, holding on for a 34-29 advantage after one even though Miami shot 71 percent from the field.
The Nets never gave up the lead in the first half, taking a 55-52 lead into the break behind 17 points from Humphries and 13 from Brooks.