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News » Thunder-Heat Preview 2009-11-16

Thunder-Heat Preview 2009-11-16

Thunder-Heat Preview 2009-11-16The Miami Heat have been doing their best to take advantage of a home-heavy stretch to start the season, though they recently needed some last-second heroics from Dwyane Wade to escape a loss to one of the league's worst teams.

The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be proving they no longer belong in that category.

The Heat try to close their five-game homestand with a fourth win Tuesday night against the Thunder, who are seeking the franchise's first three-game road winning streak since March 2007.

Miami (7-2) has played seven of its first nine games at American Airlines Arena, and it's won five of those as it tries to assert itself as a contender along with Atlanta and Orlando in the Southeast Division.

The Heat suffered through their worst defensive game thus far in a 111-104 loss to Cleveland on Thursday, then followed that with their worst offensive performance Saturday against New Jersey. Miami shot a season-low 39.3 percent but was bailed out by Wade's 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to win 81-80, sending the Nets to 0-10.

"We designed the play for him to have the open drive to the rim, possibly to get to the free throw line," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "As soon as I saw Dwyane take one step back, I thought, 'OK, he's going for the win right now."

Wade's shot came after Quentin Richardson banked in a 3-pointer with 25.4 seconds, and made sure Udonis Haslem's strong outing would not go unrewarded. Playing off the bench this season for the first time since he was a rookie, Haslem had a season-high 28 points and 12 rebounds.

That effort was even more significant considering the absence up front of Jermaine O'Neal, who missed Saturday's game with a bruised hip. O'Neal is expected to return against the Thunder (5-5), as is top 3-point shooter Mario Chalmers, who left early in the win against New Jersey with a strained right shoulder.

Oklahoma City's first 10 games have been a vast improvement from its first season after relocating from Seattle. The Thunder began last season 1-15 in their new home, and didn't win their fifth game until Jan. 6.

They won only eight road games last season, but already have three in 2009-10 after beating the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio during a three-game trip last week.

Coach Scott Brooks' team returned home Sunday, however, and let the Clippers get some revenge. Kevin Durant scored a season-high 40 points, but Los Angeles rallied in the fourth quarter to win 101-93.

"This was a bad loss for us but we're going to learn from it," Durant said.

Durant (28.1 points per game) is right behind Wade (29.7) among the league's top five scorers, but he's never had much success in South Beach. The 2008 rookie of the year has averaged 18.0 points on 36.4 percent shooting in two games in Miami, including a 105-99 loss on Dec. 6.

Russell Westbrook scored a team-high 30 points in that loss, while Wade led Miami with 38.

The Thunder haven't won three in a row on the road since March 18-28, 2007, while the franchise was still in Seattle.

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Added: November 16, 2009


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