Heat Win Second Straight Game; Stay in Thick of Race for Fourth Seed
The Heat, who beat the Pistons the previous night, swept a back-to-back for just the third time in 16 attempts this season. More importantly, they stayed in the thick of the race for the Eastern Conference's fourth seed, in which they now only trail the pesky Atlanta Hawks by 3.5 games.
Once again, the Heat were led by All-Star Dwyane Wade, who posted a game-high 27 points to go along with eight assists, two steals, and one block on 47 percent shooting. And with Wade's 27 points, he once again rewrote the Miami Heat record books, breaking his own single-season scoring record. He now has 2,064 points for the season, which is 24 more points than his previous best set in the '05-'06 campaign.
As Wade continues to break records, the Heat continue to win ballgames. With the win, the Heat improve to 38-32 overall, and an impressive 25-11 on their home floor. That is certainly a far cry from last year's 15-67 record and 9-32 home record.
The Heat set the tone early, jumping out to an 11-0 start. They never lost the lead and held a double-digit lead for most of the game.
“It was what we needed,” Wade said. “It’s what we all talked about in the locker room before the game. It’s something we haven’t gotten in a while, just come out and fight early.”
Rookie O.J. Mayo led the Grizzlies with 21 points, while Mike Conley contributed 11 points, five assists, and four rebounds. The Grizzlies have now dropped 17 of their last 19 games, including five straight games.
Rookie Michael Beasley rebounded from a three point effort against the Pistons with 17 points and nine boards. Forward Udonis Haslem posted 11 points, while center Jamaal Magloire, who started in place of the injured Jermaine O'Neal, got his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
O'Neal was out with a bruised right hip, but is expected to return Wednesday when the Heat face off against the Indiana Pacers, where they have lost 13 straight games at the Conseco Fieldhouse. They will look to end that streak as O'Neal faces his former team for the first time in a Heat uniform.
Miami played great defense from the start, which set a tone for the entire game. They forced 20 Memphis turnovers, including four steals from both Jamario Moon and newly aquired Luther Head.
But great team defense couldn't overshadow Wade's performance. Wade's 11 points in the first quarter was topped off by a forceful slam dunk, in which he took a bounce pass at the foul line and landed a one-handed dunk over a hopeless Darko Milicic.
Wade's dunk in the second quarter out shined his one in the first. Mario Chalmers stole the ball from Conley and quickly flicked it to Wade, who jumped from just inside the foul line and slammed it down with two-tenths of a second remaining in the half.
Overall, it was a good and much-needed victory for a Heat team vying for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat look to extend their win streak to three and gain ground on the Hawks when they take on the Pacers tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
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