A four-game road trip against some of the worst teams in the NBA
has been more interesting than the Miami Heat probably
The Heat continue their pursuit of the No. 2 seed in the Eastern
Conference when they try to hand the Minnesota Timberwolves a ninth
straight loss Friday night.
Miami (52-23) figured to cruise through this trip that started
with games against Cleveland and Washington and ends in New Jersey
on Sunday. Those three opponents, along with Minnesota (17-58),
have records that are among the six worst in the league.
The road stretch, though, got off to a bad start with a 102-90
loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday, with LeBron James skipping
pregame introductions in order to avoid hearing the boos in his
second trip back to Cleveland. The Heat recovered for a 102-90 win
over the Wizards on Wednesday in a game that featured a
Miami reserves Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard were ejected
because of the incident, in which Washington rookie guard John Wall
took a swing in reaction to being elbowed.
James, who finished with 35 points, eight rebounds and eight
assists Wednesday, later complained that a foul on him by Maurice
Evans should have been called as intentional.
“I see a lot of basketball every day, and anytime when someone
gets grabbed around the neck, it’s an automatic flagrant-1. If I’m
wrong, tell me I’m wrong,” James said. “Sometimes it’s unfair,
because of how strong I am, you know. I can take the punishment of
course, but at the same time, I think it’s unfair sometimes.”
Dwyane Wade had 33 points and nine assists as the Heat finished
with their fourth-best field-goal percentage of the season at 57.7.
The teams each had 35 rebounds, one night after the Cavaliers
outrebounded the Heat 44-30.
“It’s physical. That’s fine. We’re not running away from that,”
coach Erik Spoelstra said. “When the dust settles, it becomes about
a basketball game.”
The Heat are 2 1/2 games behind East-leading Chicago and locked
in a tight battle with Boston for the second-best mark.
A big offensive performance could be in store for the Heat on
Friday, as they shot a season-high 58.2 percent in a 129-97 rout of
Minnesota on Nov. 2. Wade had 26 points and James added 20 and 12
Michael Beasley had a difficult night in his first game against
his former team, scoring 11 points in 10 minutes before missing the
second half with a bruised hip.
Minnesota is enduring its sixth losing streak of at least six
games. The Timberwolves have not dropped nine in a row since a
16-game skid Feb. 24-March 28, 2010.
This difficult homestand has featured visits by the East’s three
top teams. Minnesota rallied from 25 down to take a fourth-quarter
lead in an 85-82 loss to the Celtics on Monday, but turned in a
less-competitive effort in falling 108-91 to the Bulls on
“For whatever reason, it wasn’t there tonight,” coach Kurt
Rambis said. “We didn’t bring the effort and intensity and focus
for the vast majority of the ballgame.”
All-Star forward Kevin Love returned after missing three games
because of a strained left groin and had 16 points and nine