Trying for their longest winning streak in 14 years, the Phoenix Suns won’t have to worry about facing one of the best players in the NBA.
With Miami’s Dwyane Wade recovering from dental surgery, the Suns try for their 12th straight victory when they visit the Heat.
The Suns (14-6) beat Orlando 103-89 on Monday for their first 11-game winning streak since Feb. 8-March 6. They have not taken 12 in a row since a franchise-record 14-game run from Dec. 1-30, 1992.
Their chances of extending the streak got considerably better Tuesday, when Wade had two wisdom teeth removed. The guard, who experienced pain last week, visited dentists three times before the decision was made to extract the teeth.
The Heat said Wade, who ranks among the league leaders with 28.0 points per game, would be evaluated daily and could play Friday when Miami visits Washington. Miami (9-11) is already without center Shaquille O’Neal, who’s recovering from knee surgery and isn’t expected back for at least a few more weeks.
The Suns are scoring a league-best 111.8 points per game, but used a strong defensive effort in the third quarter Monday to pull away. Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 30 points, and Steve Nash added 18 points and 15 assists.
“Offensively, we were just OK, but I thought the third quarter was the best defense we ever played and that’s kind of shocking,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said.
The Suns are 13-1 since starting the season 1-5 and have won all seven of their games against Eastern Conference opponents this season. Phoenix, 6-4 away from home, is wrapping up a four-game road trip.
“We won 11 (in a row) a couple years ago, and we won 11 last year. We’ve never really won more then 11 with this group, but that’s something we want to shoot for,” D’Antoni said.
“Miami is going to be tough obviously, and it won’t be easy being the last game of the road trip. But we have our goal to do that and we’ll see if we can do it.”
The Heat, meanwhile, are just 4-6 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“We just need to get back playing well at home,” center Alonzo Mourning said. “This month, we have the majority of our games at home. That will give us the opportunity to get back over .500.”
Wade played through the tooth pain Monday and matched his season high with 37 points in Miami’s 99-77 win over Toronto. He has led the Heat in scoring in each of their last 17 games, a team record.
“Anybody who has been through this knows the pain I feel,” he said of his tooth problems. “It’s tough enough to bring a grown man to his knees.”
Phoenix won both meetings with Miami last season and has taken four of the last six matchups.