Minnesota (27-33) at Miami (31-29)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Miami, FL
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Mar 9, 2007
  • TV: KSTC, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While Dwyane Wade hasn’t been in the Miami Heat lineup, his teammates have been delivering a strong message to the other Eastern Conference contenders.

The Heat will look to remain undefeated on their six-game homestand when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

Miami (31-29) has won four straight, including the first three on its longest homestand of the season, and is 5-2 since Wade dislocated his left shoulder Feb. 21. With the NBA finals MVP watching from the bench for the first time since his injury, the Heat dominated Chicago over a 14-minute stretch and went on to win 103-70 on Wednesday night.

After the Bulls had cut Miami’s lead to three in the third quarter, the Heat outscored Chicago 38-9 over that 14-minute span to win their 10th straight home game and solidify their hold on the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.

“They’ve been a little bit more serious in playing us than we were in playing them,” said Miami center Shaquille O’Neal, who had 24 points, nine rebounds and a season-high eight assists. “So we knew that we owed this team. They hate us for some reason, which is fine. They use as one of their stepping stones, so we had to let them know that we’re still here.”

The Heat have won 12 of their past 16 games to jump back in the hunt for not only the playoffs, but the Southeast Division title. Miami trails Washington by just three games, and the teams meet Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat shot 55.1 percent against the Bulls and limited Chicago to 35.1 percent shooting, the third time during this four-game winning streak that they’ve held an opponent under 40 percent.

“If we continue to play defense the way we’ve been playing … who knows what can happen,” said Heat guard Eddie Jones, who’s reached the 20-point mark in back-to-back games for the first time since March 24-26, 2004, during his first stint with Miami.

Lack of rest could be an issue for Minnesota (27-33) as it comes to Miami. The Timberwolves have gone to double overtime in each of their last two games, losing to Boston on Sunday before rallying to beat the Lakers 117-107 on Tuesday.

Minnesota’s 7-foot center Mark Blount knocked down three straight 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Timberwolves make up a six-point deficit with 2:35 to play and send the game to overtime.

Blount was 5-for-19 from 3-point range coming into the game, but helped the Timberwolves turn around their poor shooting from beyond the arc. Minnesota was 1-for-14 on 3-pointers before Blount took over.

“When we win or whenever we’ve needed big shots this year, he’s come through and hit some big shots,” Wolves forward Kevin Garnett said. “He was right on time today.”

Minnesota had lost six of seven before pulling out Tuesday’s win. It was the first time in team history that the Timberwolves played back-to-back double-OT games.

The Timberwolves, who have lost six straight road games and are 9-20 away from Minnesota, play seven of their next eight on the road.

The Wolves have won eight of the past 11 meetings with the Heat. The teams meet again March 30 in Minneapolis.

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Friday, Mar 9