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Heat battle Cavs down south

Tue 7th, February 2012

(Sports Network) - When LeBron James and Cleveland get together, it's always a little extra special.

James and the Miami Heat will finish a brief two-game homestand tonight by welcoming the Cavaliers and the new face of their franchise, Kyrie Irving, to the shores of Biscayne Bay.

Cleveland, of course, was the NBA home of James for the first seven years of his career before the All-Star "took his talents to South Beach" before last season. James was a two-time NBA MVP with the Cavs, a former scoring champion and led the team to the 2007 NBA Finals before the Cavs succumbed to the San Antonio Spurs.

The superstar led Miami to the NBA Finals last season but the Heat lost in six games to the Dallas Mavericks.

A favorite to win the championship again, the Heat have been streaking lately, winning seven of eight and compiling a solid 18-6 mark overall.

Most recently James had a game-high 30 points to go with nine rebounds as Miami outlasted the Toronto Raptors, 95-89, at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday.

"The Big Three" accounted for 67 of the team's 95 points as Dwyane Wade scored 25 points and Chris Bosh added 12 points and eight boards for the Heat, who have won two straight.

"We knew it was going to be one of those grind-out kind of games," Wade said. "We understand that a lot of teams do that when they play the Heat - come out on fire."

Miami, which is 11-2 at home, will embark on a six-game road trip after tonight's encounter.

The Cavs, meanwhile, are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season, a 91-88 victory over the reigning NBA champion Mavericks on Saturday. Irving scored 20 points, including a tough reverse layup in traffic with 15.8 seconds remaining in that one.

After Irving's layup made it a three-point margin, Jason Terry missed a three- pointer from the top of the arc with 0.9 left. But following a review, the Mavericks got one final opportunity with 0.5 showing on the clock. Brandan Wright's desperation shot at the buzzer was off the mark.

"In that fourth quarter he was pretty fresh and we put the ball in his hands and let him make decisions," Cavs head coach Byron Scott said of Irving. "He's got the unique ability to get to the basket. And when he gets there he has a great way of finishing."

Anderson Varejao had a huge game with 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who snapped a two-game skid. Antawn Jamison netted 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

The Heat and Cavs are meeting for the second of three matchups this season. Miami bested Cleveland in South Florida, 92-85, back on Jan. 24 behind Bosh's 35 points. In 2010-11, Miami took three of four from the Cavs.

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