LeBron James and the Miami Heat maintain their hold on the top of The Times'… (Pat Carter / Associated…)
The Miami Heat have won a season-high 20-straight games. At 49-14, the Heat have eclipsed the San Antonio Spurs with the best record in the NBA.
Can they catch the all-time number of 33-straight wins set by the 1971-72 Lakers?
"I'd say this is the most serious challenge we've had to our streak," Hall-of-Fame guard Gail Goodrich said to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida. "I think they'll make a very, very, very serious run at our record. They might even break it. They're head and shoulders over the rest of the NBA. Who's going to beat them? There's not as much parity in the league now."
Bill Sharman, the Hall-of-Fame coach who guided the Lakers through their streak, also admitted Miami is a concern to the Lakers' record.
"It is certainly a possibility that the Heat could break our 33-game winning streak," said Sharman. "The record has held for 41 years, and all of us that participated in it are very proud to have been part of that season. However, [Heat president] Pat Riley has put together an amazing team, and I have to admit this one makes me a little nervous."
Miami plays its next-four games on the road in Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Cleveland - followed by the struggling Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Bobcats at home. Another four-game trip will take the Heat to Orlando, Chicago, New Orleans and San Antonio.
If the Heat can get through them all successfully - including difficult visits to the Celtics, Bulls and Spurs on the road - they'll hit the 30-win mark.
To break the record, they would need to win their next four, including home games to the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks - and a visit to the last-place Bobcats.
The 34th win to break the Lakers' streak would be in Miami against Milwaukee. Oddly, it was the same Bucks franchise that defeated the Lakers - ending their streak at 33.
If it comes to that, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not expected to come out of retirement to play one game for the Bucks ...
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