The Miami Heat continued their record win-streak in dramatic fashion after coming back from 27 points down to snatch victory against struggling Cleveland.
LeBron James scored 25 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, made 10 assists and hit two key-free throws with 4.7 seconds to play to inspire his side to victory and extend their run to 24 games.
"We had to dig deep for this one," James said. "We know every team is going to give us a good shot. We know they are going to be trying to take us down. We should enjoy that. We should embrace that. We have to be ready for that."
The game was the first for James at the home of his former club since he won an NBA title with the Miami team he joined after spurning the Cavaliers.
"This is a gut performance for our team. I'm happy my teammates were able to come through for me tonight. This was a big one."
The start of the game was delayed for 45 minutes by a coolant leak on the main scoreboard, adding to the intense atmosphere surrounding the return of James, who grew up and was a high school star in at nearby Akron.
"It's tough when you are ready to go and you have a 45-minute wait," James said. "It's difficult but we are trained professionals. We have to be ready for anything."
Cleveland jumped ahead 55-34 at half-time and began pulling away to start the second half.
The Heat made a 20-6 run to end the third quarter and a 15-2 spurt to start to fourth to pull even, then outplayed Cleveland down the stretch to improve the best record in the NBA to 53-14, while the Cavaliers fell to 22-46.
After James missed a jumper, Cleveland's Wayne Ellington missed a three-pointer and the ball went out of bounds. A call that went to video review gave Miami the ball and James was fouled by Alonzo Gee after taking the inbounds pass.
Cleveland scored seven points in a row to pull within 96-95 on Tristan Thompson's two free throws with 44 seconds remaining.
James made both free throws to produce the final margin, but the Cavaliers had one final chance to equalise. C.J. Miles launched a three-point try, but it bounced high off the rim and the spectacular upset bid had been foiled.
"They came out, they got inside our head and built that huge lead. Then they ran it up more," James said. "Then we got a run in the third quarter and started playing Miami Heat basketball."
Elsewhere the San Antonio Spurs improved to 52-16 - the league's second best record behind Miami (53-14) - with a 104-93 triumph over the Golden State Warriors.
Tim Duncan was top scorer for the Spurs with 25 points, ensuring Stephen Curry's 24-point haul for the Warriors was in vain.
Brook Lopez scored 38 points helped Brooklyn prevail 113-96 against the Dallas Mavericks. Deron Williams also had a good night for the Nets, notching 31 points.
JR Smith poured in 22 points and Carmelo Anthony - on his return from a knee injury - contributed 21 to lift the New York Knicks to a 106-94 success against the Orlando Magic.
Marc Gasol's tip-in in the final second of overtime secured a 90-89 victory for the Memphis Grizzlies against the Oklahoma City Thunder, while James Harden scored 29 points as the Houston Rockets boosted their play-off hopes by toppling the Utah Jazz 100-93.
The New Orleans Hornets snapped a four-game losing run with a dramatic 87-86 win against the Boston Celtics, a last-gasp tip-in from rookie Anthony Davis proving decisive.
Jeff Teague's 27 points led the Atlanta Hawks to a 98-90 win against the Milwaukee Bucks, while Byron Mullens' 25 points helped the Charlotte Bobcats achieve back-to-back victories by overcoming the Toronto Raptors 107-101.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Clippers thrashed Philadelphia 101-72, Chris Paul's 19 points helping condemn the 76ers to a 14th straight road loss, and the Washington Wizards triumphed 88-79 against the Phoenix Suns.
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