The Miami Heat will get a lot of chances within the next week to turn around their road woes.
The first one certainly isn’t their best.
A visit to Los Angeles to face the star-studded Lakers, seeking their 20th consecutive home victory, is how the Heat have to open their five-game western road swing.
While Miami is one of only five teams in the league yet to win on the road (0-5) this season, Los Angeles is one of five yet to lose at home (4-0).
The Lakers have won 19 straight regular season games at Staples Center, their longest such streak since winning 24 in a row at home during the 1987-88 and 1988-99 seasons. Their last home loss in the regular season came to the New York Knicks on Feb. 16.
Miami, meanwhile, has won only once in its last 13 games away from home. This is the first of five road games in seven nights for the Heat, a trip that also includes visits to Seattle, Portland, Golden State and Phoenix.
Though they were the last team in the NBA this season to enter the win column and now face a team with four future Hall of Famers, the Heat go into this matchup feeling confident.
They’ve posted back-to-back wins since opening 0-7, and are coming off Friday’s 105-101 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards.
“This was another step forward for us,” said first-year Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I thought we had some good moments in the game. We ran a little more tonight. Our rebounding was great again. We had some breakdowns, but there was more good than bad.”
“We showed a lot of character in overtime by finishing them off,” Jones said. “Our goal is to become more and more confident with what we are doing out there.”
The Lakers are not feeling quite as good about themselves despite owning the best record in the Western Conference. They beat the Detroit Pistons 94-89 on Friday, but coach Phil Jackson believes his team should not have had so much trouble putting the game away.
“We’re still struggling to get organized,” Jackson said. “Some of the things don’t flow as nicely as we’d like them to flow down the court, but I think we’re getting some of the concepts that we are trying to get.”
Shaquille O’Neal had 21 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, and got a key rebound before making two crucial free throws with 20 seconds remaining. Gary Payton added 21 points while Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone each had 16.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 14): Heat - 6th place, 3 GB, Atlantic Division. Lakers - 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Jones, 22.1 ppg; Haslem, 8.6 rpg; Odom, 4.8 apg. Lakers - O’Neal, 22.2 ppg and 12.9 rpg; Payton, 7.1 apg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 12; Lakers, 106-81. At Los Angeles, Bryant scored 36 points to pace the Lakers, who shot 51.3 percent and outscored the Heat 56-31 after halftime.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 0-5 on the road; Lakers - 4-0 at home.