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Heat rise to the top of East behind LBJ's star turn

Published: 4:42PM Sunday December 23, 2012 Source: Reuters

LeBron James jammed home 30 points, as the NBA-champion Miami Heat silenced the Utah Jazz 105-89 today, moving past the New York Knicks atop the Eastern Conference.

Miami turned a four-point lead at intermission into a double-digit cushion by scoring the first eight points of the third quarter, helped by a pair of three-pointers from Shane Battier.

The lead stretched to 20 points, but Utah battled back to close the gap, getting as close as eight in the fourth quarter, though the Heat were never seriously threatened.

The Heat won every quarter, building their lead behind the all-round brilliance of James and an equally well-rounded effort by running mate Dwyane Wade to lift Miami's record to 18-6 and push past the fast-starting New York Knicks (19-7).

James shared the team lead with nine rebounds and seven assists, while Wade scored 21 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists. Miami shot a blistering 52% from the floor, including 11-for-24 from three-point range, in improving to 13-2 on their home court.

The Jazz, who were paced by Marvin Williams with 16 points, continued their road struggles, falling to 5-12 away from home.

James has scored at least 20 points in all 24 Heat games this season, matching the longest such streak to start a season since former Jazz forward Karl Malone in the 1989-90 campaign.

Miami, winners of four straight games, will put their streak on the line on Christmas Day against the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder (21-5) in a rematch of last season's NBA finalists.