MIAMI — This was not the smoothest of operations.
Not close, even at the dramatic finish.
But the result was familiar, the Miami Heat franchise-record winning streak now at 16, one victory off the longest in the NBA this season.
No, this 97-96 victory Wednesday night over the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena was far from what was expected.
Except for LeBron James at the finish, with his driving layup with 3.2 seconds to play closing the scoring.
“He just kind of spaced it and drove it and jumped over everybody with his left hand,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of the play that accounted for the last two of James’ game-high 26 points.
The winning basket came off a pick-and-roll called out of a timeout by Spoelstra, after Magic forward Al Harrington was off with a 3-point attempt with Orlando up one.
Problem was, James secured possession after that Harrington miss while on the move, in position to play in the open floor.
That’s also when a whistle sounded, the official believing Spoelstra wanted a timeout, which he didn’t.
“It was miscommunication,” Spoelstra said.
ww“The official apologized. I had told him before that, if they make it, I was calling time out.”
Not only did that plan blow up, so did the plan to run the pick-and-roll with Chris Bosh.
No matter, the Heat and James ultimately found a way.
“We wanted to get our tallest guy and most athletic guy to the rim,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.
Like last week’s victories over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings, the Heat again appeared to be at a loss for motivation after moving to a large early lead, this time 15 at halftime and then 20 early in the third quarter.
But like those two escape acts, superior talent and athleticism eventually prevailed.