Heat-Jazz Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 02, 2012
The Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat may be without Chris Bosh, but that doesn't appear to be slowing down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. James and Wade look to continue picking up the slack for their grieving teammate, and lead the Heat to their longest winning streak in over a year against the Utah Jazz on Friday night. Bosh is expected to miss a second consecutive game due to a death in the family, leaving Miami (28-7) without his 18.4 points and team-leading 8.3 rebounds per game. The Heat didn't miss a beat without their All-Star forward Thursday, opening this three-game road trip with a 107-93 win over Portland. James had 38 points with 11 boards, while Wade scored 33 and dished out 10 assists. ''We had a big piece of our team out, so I definitely had to step up my game to bring home this win,'' James said. "We showed up, the same team that played before the break. Miami has won nine in a row, including six games on the road. The team hasn't had a longer overall winning streak since reeling off 12 straight victories from Nov. 29-Dec. 18, 2010. James, third in the NBA with 27.7 points per game, and Wade will likely have a role in getting closer to that mark. James is averaging 31.0 points over the last four road games, while Wade has a 28.0 average over the last four overall contests. The duo came up big in the most recent visit to Utah (16-18) on Dec. 8, 2010, when James scored 33 points and Wade added 28 to power a 111-98 win. James, though, knows the real challenge will be keeping Utah from pounding the boards without Bosh. "They're big on the inside, we have to keep them off the glass, with (Paul) Millsap and (Al) Jefferson and all those guys," he said. "We always know that Salt Lake City is a tough game." The Jazz are hoping Devin Harris is healthy enough to help them build on the momentum generated by Wednesday's 104-83 victory over Houston. Harris wasn't feeling well, so he left the game in the third quarter after scoring 19 points in 22 minutes. "That's the Devin I used to love and hate because he used to do that to us," Jefferson said of Harris' days in Dallas. "He did it the last couple of games, really stepped it up and attacked the basket. That's going to really get us going." Harris is averaging 15.5 points and 5.5 assists over the last four games, an improvement from his 9.6 and 4.6 averages, respectively, overall. He struggled in his most recent meeting with the Heat, making 1 of 4 field goals to finish with six points and one assist in a 101-89 loss with New Jersey on Nov. 6, 2010. It's unclear if Utah will have forward Millsap (heel) and guard Raja Bell (adductor) back. Millsap is second on the team with 15.7 points per game, and he averaged 32.0 points versus the Heat last season. That included a career-high 46 points with nine rebounds in a 116-114 overtime victory at Miami on Nov. 9, 2010. Continued absences from them may mean more playing time for swingman C.J. Miles, who had a season-high 27 points while hitting 10 of 16 shots from the field Wednesday.
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