Heat-Knicks Preview

A loss to one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference not

only ended the Miami Heat’s long winning streak, it also prevented

them from keeping pace in the standings.

Facing another lowly club may help Miami get back on track.

The Heat continue their stretch against lesser opponents when

they begin their final road trip of the season Sunday night against

the New York Knicks.

Miami (44-35) entered Friday’s home matchup with last-place

Detroit on a nine-game winning streak and tied with Milwaukee for

fifth place in the East. The Heat, though, lost 106-99 and the

Bucks won 95-90 at Philadelphia.

“It hurt us,” forward Michael Beasley said. “We’re going to

regret this one.”

Dwyane Wade, fifth in the NBA with 26.4 points per game,

finished with 19 – none in the final 13 minutes.

“You play games in this league to win,” Wade said. “Some are

going to be tight. Some aren’t going to be. We won nine games in a

row. We lost one. We’ll bounce back.”

The Heat will try to do so against New York (28-51), the seventh

of nine straight opponents to end the season that is under .500.

Miami visits the 76ers on Monday before hosting NBA-worst New

Jersey on Wednesday.

Coach Erik Spoelstra, though, said he’s been telling the Heat

that waiting to pull games out late against teams whose seasons

will end next week is dangerous.

“Right now we’ve had slippage,” he told the Heat’s official Web

site. “We’ve had slippage at the start of games. We’re not coming

out with energy.”

Miami has averaged 112.5 points in winning four in a row over

New York, taking both meetings this season by an average of 14.0.

That trend seems likely to hold up with the Knicks among the worst

teams in the league in allowing 105.6 points per game.

New York lost for the sixth time in eight games Friday night,

118-103 at Southeast Division champion Orlando.

“We played hard. We played pretty well. They just outmanned us.

They’re just better,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Danilo Gallinari had 28 points and has showed steady improvement

since the Knicks selected him with the sixth overall pick in 2008.

The 21-year-old forward has averaged 22.8 points in the last five

games and is second in the league with 176 3-pointers made.

“We are trying to develop the young guys and make sure they get

good experience,” D’Antoni said. “Every game is meaningful and we

try to get down to the end when you can win or lose games. We want

our young guys to get experience, and I think they’re doing

that.”

One of those players is Earl Barron, who spent his first three

years with Miami before not playing in the NBA last season. The

7-foot center has started the last three games after being signed

to a 10-day contract April 2, averaging 13.3 points and 13.0

rebounds.