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Heat start to move on after streak ends

Friday - 3/29/2013, 4:14am  ET

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade reacts as he watches a free throw by Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. The Bulls won 101-97, ending the Heat's 27-game winning streak. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer

Take heart, Heat. Look out, NBA.

When the Los Angeles Lakers' 33-game winning streak ended, they hit a bit of a lull before rolling through the playoffs and winning the NBA title.

That scenario likely would suit Miami just fine since the defending champions have said all along they were focused on repeating more than breaking a record.

Dwyane Wade even sounded relieved Miami's run stopped at 27, courtesy of the Chicago Bulls.

"Now that it's over, I'm glad it's over," he said after the 101-97 loss Wednesday night, his team's first defeat in nearly two months.

"It really didn't matter to us," Wade said. "If you get it, it's awesome. If you don't, we still won 27 games in a row. That's pretty awesome. So we really weren't like, 'We've got to get that record.' Not at all."

So, with their name firmly attached to the second-longest streak in NBA history, the Heat did what they would have done if it had still been going strong. They took Thursday off in New Orleans, where they'll face the Hornets on Friday night.

While the circus atmosphere around the team slows down -- until the playoffs, anyway -- the Heat can turn to the business of wrapping up the final 11 games of the regular season without what some may call a "distraction." Clinching the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed is a foregone conclusion, and the Heat leads San Antonio by two games in the race for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Still, Lakers star Kobe Bryant urged LeBron James and his teammates to savor the moment.

"I think just as a student of the game, as a fan of the game, you appreciate those kind of streaks and you realize how difficult it is to put together that big of a streak," he said. "Obviously, the Lakers winning 33 in a row was phenomenal, but the Heat's one was just as impressive."

After their streak ended, those '71-72 Lakers lost four of their next six games. But they went 15-2 to close the regular season, then lost only three of 15 playoff games on the way to the title.

That's the only measure of success for the Heat.

"At the end of the day, a win is a win in our league," said James, the reigning MVP who averaged exactly 27 points per game during the 27-game streak. "We've gotten better throughout the season. Each and every month we've improved. We've started from behind some games, but for the most part we've played some great basketball."

They blew out some teams and rallied in the final minutes to beat others, erasing double-digit deficits and pulling off 11 fourth-quarter comebacks in their 7
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