MIAMI — Down by seven points with less than two minutes left, LeBron James’ current team was in big trouble against his former team.
That is, until the Miami Heat saved their very best for the very end.
James found Ray Allen for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds left, highlighting a nine-point run to end the game and lift the Heat to a 110-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
Miami held the lead for just 2 minutes, 29 seconds. Cleveland led 108-101 with 1:58 remaining, before the reigning NBA champions found a way to stay perfect at home.
“It speaks to the competitive will that the guys have at the end of close games," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have a lot of gamers in that locker room. They rise to the occasion. They want situations like that. That can be dangerous, as well."
James finished with 30 points for the Heat. Chris Bosh scored 23 points, Dwyane Wade added 18 and Allen finished with 17 — 15 in the fourth quarter — for the Heat, who lost Shane Battier in the third quarter to a sprained right knee.
Of the nine Cleveland players who logged minutes, everyone but Tyler Zeller scored at least 10 points. Jeremy Pargo and Dion Waiters each scored 16 for Cleveland, which got 15 from Omri Casspi, 13 from Tristan Thompson, 12 from Alonzo Gee, 11 from Gibson, a 10-point, 15-rebound night from Anderson Varejao, and 10 more points from CJ Miles.
The Cavaliers were 14 for 31 from 3-point range, forced 18 turnovers and turned them into 22 points, led by 13 points in the third quarter — and still fell to 1-7 against Miami since James’ infamous decision to leave Cleveland and join the Heat in July 2010.
“Tough loss," Varejao said. “We had control of the whole game and at the end we gave away easy layups and we didn’t play smart on offense and we lost the game."
After Allen’s 3-pointer, Cleveland had a good look at the lead, but Wade blocked Pargo’s jumper with three seconds left.
“I liked my chances to at least make it a tough shot," Wade said.
Allen added one free throw to stretch the lead to two, and when he missed the second try, Cleveland controlled the rebound with 0.6 seconds left, but never got anything near the rim.
Also on Saturday:
WASHINGTON — Byron Mullens scored 27 points, Ramon Sessions had 20 and Ben Gordon added 19 as Charlotte earned its seventh win of the season — equaling last year’s victory total — and kept Washington winless in double overtime.
DALLAS — Metta World Peace hit three early 3-pointers to spark a Los Angeles barrage from long range, and the Lakers scored 36 points before Kobe Bryant (19 points) took his first shot.
PHILADELPHIA — Kevin Durant scored 37 points, Russell Westbrook had 30 and Oklahoma City beat Philadelphia in overtime.
ATLANTA — Jeff Teague had 19 points and 11 assists, Zaza Pachulia added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Atlanta won its fifth straight by beating Los Angeles.
MILWAUKEE — Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton scored 22 points apiece to lead Chicago over Milwaukee, breaking a four-game losing streak.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tyreke Evans scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half and slumping Sacramento beat Utah.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Klay Thompson scored a season-high 24 points, Stephen Curry added 20 points and six assists, and Golden State beat Minnesota.