Heat-Magic Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 30, 2012
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The return of Dwyane Wade wasn't enough to help the Miami Heat avoid losing back-to-back games. A visit to the slumping Orlando Magic might keep their skid from growing to a season-high mark. While LeBron James attempts to add to an impressive scoring run Monday, Miami will try to get back on track by sending Orlando to its first six-game losing streak in nearly seven years. Wade scored 24 points in his return from a one-game suspension Saturday but the Heat (20-8) had only two other players in double figures in a 104-85 defeat in Milwaukee. LeBron James had a team-best 26 points and Chris Bosh had 12 on 5-of-14 shooting after scoring 28 in a 109-99 loss to Detroit on Friday, which snapped a six-game win streak. "Obviously, the last 48 hours have not gone we wanted it to," Erik Spoelstra said. "We don't want to make any excuses about it. Milwaukee kicked our butt. They were the better team tonight. We will gather ourselves, get to Orlando and start to work on it." James' performance gave him 20 or more points in all 28 games, tying him with former Boston star and current Houston coach Kevin McHale for the second-longest such streak to open a season since the NBA-ABA merger. McHale accomplished his feat in 1986-87 and San Antonio great George Gervin had a 45-game run in 1981-82. The Heat superstar will seek to surpass McHale's streak while helping his team avoid its first three-game skid since Jan. 10-13. James, who turned 28 years old Sunday, was kept under 20 points in three of last season's four meetings with Orlando, while Wade has averaged 29.4 on 56.3 percent shooting in his past five matchups. Miami is also seeking to avoid a third consecutive road defeat when it wraps up a four-game trip. The Heat haven't experienced such a skid since a four-game losing streak March 2-14, which included a 104-98 overtime defeat in Orlando. Miami lost in both visits to its in-state rivals last season and is 2-10 in its last 12, but this time it will face a Magic team that traded away its two top scorers from 2011-12, Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson. Orlando has suffered all of its five losses since starting forward Glen Davis suffered a shoulder injury. Point guard Jameer Nelson (hip) and his backup, E'Twaun Moore (elbow) sat out Saturday's game against Toronto and their statuses are unknown for this one. Without those players, Orlando (12-18) was hardly competitive in a 123-88 home loss, its third in a row at the Amway Center. Rookie forward Andrew Nicholson had a career-high 22 points in his second NBA start but the other four starters combined to score 35. "That's when character is developed. Not when it's easy and quiet but when it's pretty noisy and hard," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "I think we have a great group of guys with character. Everyone wants to win and I would hope that there is some signs of us wanting to get better and not accepting the performance we had (Saturday) night." The Magic lost a season-high four straight at home Nov. 25-Dec. 12, but haven't dropped six in a row overall since Feb. 26-March 6, 2006. Miami and Orlando split their four meetings last season. The Southeast Division rivals won't face each other until March 6.
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