March 27, 2013, 10 years ago today: The second-longest same-season winning streak in NBA history ends at 27 games as the Miami Heat fall to the Chicago Bulls, 101-97. The Heat came within six victories of the L.A. Lakers’ record 33-game streak in 1971-72. LeBron James scored 26.9 points per game and Dwyane Wade 23.5 during Miami’s run, which had started February 1 and featured an average margin of victory of 11.3 points over 20 different teams. The run also included seven wins where double-digit deficits were erased. A week earlier, the Heat had trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers by 27 points in the third quarter before rallying for a 98-95 victory.
James was in the third of his four seasons with Miami. He also averaged 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists during the streak, all but assuring him of his fourth NBA Most Valuable Player award. LeBron would go on to win the honor, joining Shaquille O’Neal as the only players ever to fall one vote shy of being named a unanimous MVP. (James hasn’t won the award since.) The Heat would win the NBA championship in June, four games-to-three over the San Antonio Spurs. LeBron would return to Cleveland for the 2014-15 season.
The NBA record for longest winning streak, in-season or not, is the epic 33-game parade put on by the Los Angeles Lakers 50 years ago. It started on November 5, 1971, and lasted 66 days—until January 9, 1972. The Lakers rode stars Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich to a 69-13 record that season, culminating in an NBA title, the franchise’s first in L.A. and first overall since 1954 in Minneapolis.
The Golden State Warriors have the NBA’s second-longest overall winning streak, but their run of 28 in a row happened over two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The 24 wins to start the latter season are an NBA record to open a campaign. You’ll recall that the Warriors made that historic run with an interim coach. Two days into training camp, Steve Kerr took a leave of absence due to a debilitating back injury (he wouldn’t return until January 22). So the regular season began with assistant coach Luke Walton guiding Golden State.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)