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NBA: Former Lakers on edge as Miami Heat close in on record winning streak
NBA » Now might be the time for Lakers fans and former players to start worrying one of the most enduring records in sports history is in serious jeopardy.

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Up next are NBA punching bags Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic - so 27 straight is well within reach.

The Heat then play in Chicago against the Bulls and in New Orleans against the Hornets, and assuming Derrick Rose does not return for the Bulls, it looks like 29 straight wins is possible.

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It gets a bit dicey at that point, as the Heat play in San Antonio against the powerful Spurs in a nationally televised game March 31.

Should the Heat get through that game, the Lakers record is in serious peril.

"I’d be very surprised if they don’t get to 29," Goodrich said. "And while I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs beat them, I also wouldn’t be shocked if the Heat won too. They’re just heads and shoulders above everyone else right now."

If so, the Lakers’ mark is in danger of falling.

"They say that records are made to be broken," Sharman said. "But naturally I hope that we hold on to the record a bit longer."

Of course, with 10 wins still to go, anything can happen. And as we’ve seen during the Heat streak, they have a habit of playing with fire - their Houdini act against the Celtics their latest escape from disaster.

All of which makes the Lakers feat so amazing, especially considering their nonchalant 6-3 start and the shocking retirement of star forward Elgin Baylor nine games into the season.

"There is no way anyone could have seen what we were about to do," Erickson said. "You don’t lose someone the caliber of Elgin and expect to put together a 33-game winning streak right after."

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But with McMillian replacing Baylor in the starting lineup to give the Lakers a fierce rebounding and defensive frontcourt of Happy Hairston, McMillian and Chamberlain, and high-scoring guards West and Goodrich deftly playing off each other while keeping defenders honest with their outside shooting, the Lakers were a beautifully constructed unit.

"You look at the skill set of the players and how each player perfectly fit their role, we really, really complemented each other," Goodrich said. "And we knew how to play well together."

The five starters all averaged double figures in scoring, with Goodrich and West averaging 25 points per game and McMillian averaging 18.

"We were very explosive, and we were very confident," Goodrich said. "Almost to the point of being cocky. Let’s face it, when we stepped on the floor we expected to win every game."

Meanwhile, the innovative Sharman was introducing new ideas as the head coach.

"I call him the architect," Goodrich said.

Sharman, who played at USC and with the Boston Celtics, was a masterful X’s and O’s coach, but it went beyond schemes and playcalling.

He was the first NBA coach to hire an assistant — his former Celtics teammate K.C. Jones — and make film review a fundamental part of preparation.

And it was Sharman who sold the Lakers on the game-day morning shootaround, an idea he came up with after noticing his free-throw shooting improved as a player when he practiced them the morning before games.

But first he had to get Chamberlain to buy in.

"(Chamberlain) said that if I thought it would help the team, he would give it a try," Sharman remembers. "After we started the shootaround, we started winning, and that was the beginning of the streak."

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