Miami Heat forward LeBron James poses after a dunk against the Charlotte… (Marc Serota / Getty Images )
MIAMI — — Beating Michael Jordan certainly is one way to legitimize a winning streak.
No, the Miami Heat didn't beat Jordan himself with Sunday's 109-77 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena, a victory that extended their franchise-record winning streak to 26.
But they did beat Jordan's horrific creation, the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats.
Miami was paced by 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds from forward LeBron James, who was required for only 34 minutes.
The victory over the Jordan owned-and-operated Bobcats put the Heat within seven victories of tying the NBA-record 33-game winning streak of the 1971-72 Lakers.
"It was a good professional win, and obviously was had a lot of guys step up," Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It was a good team win."
This time the Heat did it by overcoming adversity beyond another early double-digit deficit.
With guard Dwyane Wade sidelined by knee pain the team said he had been experiencing for the previous few games, Spoelstra injected Mike Miller into the starting lineup and the Heat kept on rolling.
"That's what this team is built around," James said. "We've got a lot of depth."
Quipped Miller, "I didn't even screw it up. This is such a good team, even I didn't screw it up."
Of course any lineup featuring James should be enough against the bumbling Bobcats, and the Heat forward did his part, shooting 11 of 14 from the field and 10 of 11 from the line, throwing three blocked shots and three steals into the mix of his aforementioned totals.
James' performance came in front of the likes tennis' Novak Djokovic, boxing's Wladimir Klitschko and golf's Rory McIlroy, all champions in their respective sports.
"It's humbling that you can have some of the stars from the other sports come to see you play," James said.
Said Spoelstra, "He's an entertainer, as well, and he understands moments."
James then was interviewed postgame by Wade.
"They have personalities," Spoelstra said. "They have big, infectious personalities."
With James supported by 15 points from center Chris Bosh and timely three-pointers from Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Miller, the Heat extended their home winning streak to 17, one off the franchise record.
That streak, however, will have to wait, with the Heat's next four game on the road, starting with the second game of this back-to-back set, Monday at the Amway Center against the Orlando Magic. The Heat will enter that game on a 12-game road winning streak.
While the Magic might be as feeble as the Bobcats, especially with Orlando shorthanded from injuries to several key players, the trip should have its challenges, including Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls and next Sunday against the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs.
Of the overall streak, Spoelstra said, "This thing just happened when we were focusing on just trying to get better with the process."
Even now, it hasn't totally sunk in.
"I don't think you can really appreciate it right now," Bosh said, "because it's so much work."
The game was the fourth in a row that the Heat overcame a double-digit deficit, down 11 early. This time even with a 15-0 run to end the first quarter, there still proved to be late work required, with the Bobcats standing within five midway through the third quarter.
The Heat eventually got things in order to take a 73-57 lead into the fourth quarter, now 26-0 at home this season when leading after the third quarter.
It reached the point in which the loudest late cheers came with the fourth-quarter entrance of Juwan Howard, making him just the 20th player to appear in the NBA at age 40 or older, as well as a fourth-quarter timeout when fans serenaded Bosh for his 29th birthday.
As for Miller, Spoelstra said he was impressed.
"He was very aggressive," Spoelstra said, with Miller closing two of seven from the field. "He did not come in passive at all, and that's what we need him to do."
After falling behind 19-8 with 5:22 to play in the opening period on a driving layup by Bobcats rookie forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Heat closed the quarter on their 15-0 run to go into the second period up 23-9.
The Heat extended the run to 31-6, moving ahead by 14 points in the second quarter before going into halftime up 47-39. It got closer from there, but only briefly.
"I think it's on everybody's radar where we are," James said of the streak.
And, still, the good times roll.
"We do try to have fun," he said, "no matter what is going on."