Miami puts its seven-game winning streak on the line Saturday night in Sacramento, where the Heat have won five of their last six visits.
Many questioned Miami (16-8) after it got off to a sluggish 9-8 start to the season.
Since then, the Heat have set a franchise record by winning seven straight by 10 or more points, including Friday night’s dominant 106-84 victory against Golden State. With the win, Miami moved into first place in the Southeast Division for the first time this season as Orlando’s losing streak reached four in Utah.
The Heat lead the NBA with 13 double-digit victories, and the winning streak is Miami’s longest since it won nine straight from March 20-April 7.
“Me and D-Wade have figured it out,” James said. “We just started going back to our games, what made us who we are in this league. It’s resulted in us playing good basketball, offensively and defensively.”
Wade said the winning streak is a sign the Heat are beginning to live up to expectations, but that Miami still has a long way to go.
“It’s good but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s still early in the season,” Wade said. “Right now what’s good is that we’ve won seven straight playing good basketball. We can’t have any letdowns.”
The Heat have beaten the Kings in 12 of the last 13 meetings, and Saturday’s contest seems to be another mismatch.
Sacramento (5-15) snapped an eight-game losing streak Wednesday with a 116-91 victory against Washington. Jason Thompson(notes) had season highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings, who have lost 14 of 16 since starting the season 3-1.
It was only Thompson’s fourth double-digit scoring effort this season, and only his second 20-point performance in his last 68 games.
“We played a full 48 minutes, which we hadn’t experienced in a while,” Thompson said. “We got stops, we pushed the ball, and that’s when we’re at our best.”
Evans, who is averaging 17.1 points but shooting only 39.7 percent, had an MRI on his left foot Friday, but the team said he will play through an inflamed arch and be on the court Saturday.
“We had a nice lead and (Jeter) came in and helped us up it and put the game away,” coach Paul Westphal said.
None of Sacramento’s wins this season have come against teams over .500.