The Brooklyn Nets are aiming for a winning record for the first time in almost two months, thanks in part to a revitalized offense.
The Nets look to continue their turnaround and notch their longest winning streak of the season Sunday night against the Miami Heat, who try to avoid their first five-game skid in almost four years.
Brooklyn (16-16) hasn’t been above .500 since it was 4-3 following a loss at Phoenix on Nov. 12, and it can return to that status by winning four straight for the first time since March 17-23.
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The Nets have won six of seven games, averaging 101.3 points while sinking 47.2 percent from the field after scoring 89.5 points on 43.1 percent shooting during a 2-6 stretch.
They narrowly won their third straight Friday, nearly squandering a 26-point second-half lead before holding on for a 100-98 victory at Orlando.
"First three quarters were great for us," guard Deron Williams said. "We played well on both ends of the floor. We created a lot of easy opportunities, especially on offense. Defense was great. When you’re down, you’re kind of playing carefree. We looked like we were playing just to hang on instead of going ahead and closing out the game."
Williams had 16 points, seven assists and hit all three of his attempts from beyond the arc against the Magic in his fifth straight game as a reserve since returning from a calf injury.
Brooklyn’s recent success has come with journeyman Jarrett Jack at the point. He’s averaging 16.3 points and 5.1 assists in seven games, but had just six points Friday while adding six rebounds and four assists.
Inserting Mason Plumlee into the starting lineup also has paid off for the Nets, who are 8-4 since that move. The second-year center is averaging 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds during that stretch.
Miami (14-20) was blown out 115-79 at Houston on Saturday for its worst loss since a 104-65 defeat at Charlotte on Jan. 20, 2010. The Heat, who haven’t lost five straight since Feb. 27-March 8, 2011, have been outscored by 14.0 points during the current four-game skid.
"We’re trying to get our collective mental toughness together and we haven’t been able to do it and (Saturday) was a big example of that," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We’ve talked about it in every single way and we simply have to do better and our guys understand that."
Wade and Chris Bosh tied for the team lead with 15 points Saturday, marking the 11th straight game where Wade either led or tied for the team lead in scoring, his longest such stretch since an 11-game run in 2010.
Bosh seemed frustrated with questions about why the Heat are struggling so much lately.
”I’m not trying to figure things out,” Bosh said. ”I’m just trying to win a game and trying to stop answering all these questions.”
Miami has won both meetings with Brooklyn this season, with Wade scoring a game-high 28 in a 95-91 victory Dec. 16.
Plumlee had 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and nine rebounds in that game, but the Nets shot 39.0 percent from the field.