Jerry West, a key member of the 1971-72 Lakers team that set the NBA record with 33 consecutive wins, said this afternoon that he believes the Heat has "a great chance" to break it. Miami has won 24 in a row entering Friday's game at Detroit.
"They've got an incredible chance to do it," West said in a conference call, adding it wouldn't bother him in the least if Miami did it. "I think it could be easily broken this year. It's great for the league. I look at their schedule and say unless it's a horrible shooting night, I don't that these teams are capable of coming close to them."
He makes an exception with one team: the Spurs, who host Miami on March 31. "I see one team that's a terrific team - the Spurs. That's one game I'd be concerned about."
West said he never thought the Lakers record wouldn't be broken.
West said he would be "delighted" for his longtime friend Pat Riley, his teammate on that 1971-72 Lakers team, if Miami breaks the record. He would be happy for LeBron James, too. "He makes it so much easier for those guys and I'm thrilled for him. He's proved what kind of player and person he is."
Tidbits off Wednesday night’s remarkable Heat comeback win in Cleveland --- Miami’s 24th victory in a row --- plus a few Dolphins notes:
### Quite a 68th birthday present for Pat Riley. The Heat, which rallied from 27 down with 7:03 left in the third quarter, set a franchise record for largest halftime deficit overcome in a win (21 points).
And there’s this: Miami tied Atlanta and Milwaukee for largest comeback in any game this season. And the 27-point rally in a win tied the largest in an NBA game since 2009.
And then there's this: According to ESPN, teams trailing by at least 27 points in the second half have a record of 6-2013 in the past 15 years. By the way, the largest comeback win in NBA history is from 36 down (Utah against Denver in 1996).
### Erik Spoelstra’s reaction to this craziness: “I didn’t know what to say to our guys. We haven’t been part of a game like that. It’s not the way we designed it. We caught lightning in a bottle. What happened in the third quarter,… it wasn’t designed offense. It was those guys making shots. Our defense was much more active. It took some embarrassing minutes and down 27 to change the disposition."
That Miami could do this is “part of their greatness,” Spoelstra said of his players. “Great competitors making big shots like that. That’s stepping back and letting them do their thing. We said, ‘Don’t focus on the score. Let’s just peck away and see if we can get three or four possessions more to our liking. Let’s get back to playing our game, and after five, six minutes, we’ll see what the score is.’ It’s great to see that competitive fire.”
### Mark Schwartz, who’s following the Heat during this streak for ESPN, asked Spoelstra if the winning streak motivated the Heat when it was down 27: “I don’t know if that has anything to do with the streak or pride. The tide turned very quickly. I don’t think that had anything to do with the streak.”
### The rally from the 27-point deficit was the largest comeback win in LeBron James’ career.
### Cleveland led 67-40 with 7:03 left in the third quarter. From there, Miami unleashed a stunning 55-19 run. Over the final 19:03, the Heat outscored Cleveland, 58-28.
### James had his 36th career triple double. Among active players, only Jason Kidd (107) has more. He had one of his worst shooting games during this streak (8 for 22) but scored 19 in the second half to close with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, his fourth triple-double of the season.
James scored 14 points and assisted on four other baskets in the fourth quarter. That means he accounted for 22 of Miami's 30 points in the quarter. According to ESPN, no NBA player has accounted for a higher percentage of his team's points in the fourth quarter of a game all season.
“We started playing Miami Heat defense,” James said of what changed when Miami was down 67-40. “We had to dig deep for this one. Every team is going to give us their best shot. We should embrace that. The streak wasn’t on my mind. Us getting blown out was on my mind.”
### Shane Battier (11 points, 3 for 7 on threes) and Ray Allen (10 points, 3 for 6 on threes) were instrumental in the comeback. Allen also had five steals. Mario Chalmers’ 17 points were also big. “Shane got the momentum going with his back to back threes” in the third quarter, James said.
Said Battier: “I’m proud of the resolve of this team.”
### During the third quarter, a fan identified as James Blair stormed on the court wearing a “We miss u, LeBron” shirt” before security grabbed him. Blair shook James’ hand. “I patted him on the hand,” James said. “It happened to me at Madison Square Garden. I wasn’t scared. I embraced it.”
“That’s too much,” Spoelstra said of the fan’s behavior. “Luckily, it didn’t disrupt the game or harm the players.”
### The jeers were louder than the cheers when LeBron was introduced, but this was nothing like his first game in Cleveland as a member of the Heat. “It can’t get worse than Dec. 10, 2010. I knew it would be OK.”
### The Heat has downplayed the streak, but Dwyane Wade said after Wednesday’s game: “Obviously, it’s awesome to be in this streak.”
### The Dolphins, in an ideal scenario, could have a new right side of their offensive line in the next couple days if they make offers that tackle Eric Winston or guard Brandon Moore deem adequate.
Winston and Moore began visits with the Dolphins on Wednesday, with general manager Jeff Ireland expected to join in on Thursday after returning from the NFL owners meetings.
Moore, 32, has started every game for the Jets the past eight seasons, and Pro Football Focus ranked his performance fourth among all NFL guards in 2012. The Dolphins are Moore's first free-agent visit, and he wants to see how this one goes before deciding whether to visit other suitors, including Dallas potentially.
Winston would love to play for the Dolphins IF financial terms can be worked out. He has other suitors, including Philadelphia, New England, Dallas and San Diego.
Miami wants to upgrade over John Jerry at right guard if it can find an affordable option.
### The Dolphins have about $14 million remaining in cap space and will automatically add $7 million more in space after June 1 because of recent roster moves, including the release of Karlos Dansby.
### Giants free agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who has drawn interest from the Dolphins, made the Atlanta Falcons his first free agent visit.