Miami (33-37) at Orlando (19-53)

Thunder Currently: Orlando, FL
Temp: 88° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Wed Mar 24, 2004
  • TV: SUN, WRBW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The surprising Miami Heat will try to extend their longest win streak in more than two years when they visit the Orlando Magic.

The Heat have won five straight for the first time since taking six in a row in January 2002. The streak has moved them a half-game ahead of the New York Knicks for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Miami, just 9-25 away from home, will try to win back-to-back road games for only the second time this season after a 101-81 victory at Washington on Sunday.

Dwyane Wade scored 22 points, Lamar Odom had 18 and Eddie Jones added 16 for the Heat, who have averaged 97.1 points in winning eight of their last nine. Miami is averaging 89.2 this season.

“You can tell when this team starts turning it on that it’s going,” center Brian Grant said. “It’s revving. Because when the engine starts revving, that’s when (coach) Stan (Van Gundy) starts putting the gas on even harder and saying, ‘Let’s go. Let’s go.’ And rightfully so, because we’ve been successful at it as of late.”

Miami has battled injuries all season but is finally healthy just in time for a playoff run. The Heat are 15-7 with Wade, Jones, Grant, Odom and Caron Butler in the starting lineup.

“We’re so much better when we’re healthy,” Butler said.

The Magic will have NBA leading scorer Tracy McGrady back in their lineup after he missed the previous two games to attend his great-grandmother’s funeral.

McGrady’s 28.2 points per game were sorely missed in consecutive road losses to Portland and Seattle. The Magic lost 92-73 to the Trail Blazers on Saturday before posting their lowest regular-season point total in more than six years with an 84-67 loss to the SuperSonics on Sunday.

“Without him, obviously we are not as talented,” Orlando coach Johnny Davis said. “He can create offense for himself and he also creates offense for other people. When he’s not there, we have a tremendous void.”

Despite getting 20 points from Juwan Howard and 17 from reserve Drew Gooden on Sunday, the Magic had their worst scoring performance since getting 66 points in a loss at Indiana in February 1998. Orlando was held below 35 percent from the field (24-of-69).

“We had some looks but we just didn’t get it done on the offensive end,” Davis said. “Defensively, I thought we were OK. We held them to 84 points but we couldn’t generate enough on our end to make it a game.”

The Magic, an NBA-worst 19-53, have lost five in a row as they begin a five-game homestand against the Heat.

STANDINGS (through March 22): Heat - 2nd place, 8 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Magic - 7th place, 23 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Heat - F Butler, F Odom, C Grant, G Jones, G Wade. Magic - F Howard, F DeShawn Stevenson, C Andrew DeClercq, G Tyronn Lue, G McGrady.

TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Jones, 17.5 ppg; Odom, 9.8 rpg; Rafer Alston, 4.5 apg. Magic - McGrady, 28.2 ppg and 5.5 apg; Howard, 7.1 rpg.

SEASON SERIES: Heat, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: March 9; Heat, 100-89. At Miami, Rasual Butler scored 19 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and Jones also scored 19 as the Heat set themselves up for their first ever season sweep of the Magic.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 9-25 on the road; Magic - 10-24 at home.

INJURIES: Heat - C Loren Woods (back); F Jerome Beasley (back); G Bimbo Coles (back). Magic - F Pat Garrity (knee); F Grant Hill (ankle).

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