LeBron returns, Heat top 76ers 106-87

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm •  Published: April 6, 2013

MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James went through a series of tests before the game, all under the watchful eye of the Miami Heat training staff and some coaches.

He passed with flying colors, and looked good as new afterward.

James scored 27 points after a three-game absence caused by a strained right hamstring, five other Miami players reached double figures and the Heat moved closer to securing home-court advantage for the entire NBA playoffs by topping the Philadelphia 76ers 106-87 on Saturday night.

"He knows his body better than anybody," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "So he knew how to pace himself and put his fingerprints on the game."

Playing only 31 minutes, James made 12 of 17 shots from the field and added five assists and four rebounds. Rashard Lewis scored 14 points, Norris Cole added 13 and Chris Andersen grabbed 15 rebounds — as many as he had in any two previous games this season combined — for the Heat, whose magic number for clinching the league's best regular-season record was trimmed to two.

Miami moved to 60-16, one win shy of matching the franchise single-season record. The Heat got there after outscoring Philadelphia 29-11 in the fourth quarter.

"It's special," James said. "We've got a special team. We've been saying that all year. We don't take this moment for granted. There's not many teams in NBA history that have won 60 games."

Jrue Holiday scored 18 points for Philadelphia, which got 14 from Evan Turner and an 11-point, 11-rebound night from Spencer Hawes. Dorell Wright and Nick Young each scored 10 off the bench for the 76ers, but Philly's reserves were outscored 53-28.

"That's a championship team, a veteran team, so they know how to close games," Wright said. "But I'm not taking anything from us. I think effort was there. We played hard."

The Heat were without Dwyane Wade (sore ankle and knee) and Chris Bosh (sore right knee).

A steal and dunk from James with 2:41 left just about sealed the outcome, giving the Heat — who led by just one entering the final quarter — what was then their biggest lead, a 16-point margin at 101-85.

Miami has now beaten Philadelphia in 19 of the teams' last 20 meetings, including playoffs. In the regular season only, it's 15 straight wins for the Heat.

"I can't remember the last time we beat them," Hawes said.

And while Miami will go into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed, a disappointing season for the 76ers is winding down without a single appearance from Andrew Bynum. The 76ers will miss the playoffs, after Milwaukee wrapped up the last of the Eastern Conference's eight available spots with a win over Toronto later Saturday night.

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