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Kings-Heat Preview

AP - Sports

MIAMI (AP) - Dwyane Wade finished his workout Monday and approached about a dozen reporters, one of the smallest media turnouts at a Miami Heat practice this season.

These days, the team with the NBA's best record almost seems like an afterthought.

"If it was packed in here right now, it would mean we were losing,'' Wade said. "When we look over and see a lot of people in here, we're not playing well.''

And that certainly isn't the case.

Winners of six straight, all by at least 12 points, the Heat are in their best stretch of the season. The midpoint of the regular-season schedule awaits Tuesday when Miami (25-7) hosts Sacramento (10-21), losers of five straight. Here's one example of how wildly different things have gone for those clubs: Miami has led by at least 20 points in each of its last six games, while the Kings have only enjoyed that margin once this season - for all of 37 seconds.

If the spotlight is going to shine elsewhere these days, the Heat are fine with that arrangement.

"It's quiet as hell around here and we're doing pretty good,'' forward Chris Bosh said. "But that's to be expected. And we wouldn't have it any other way. That's just the name of the game. That's the business. That's how it's always going to be. You're more of a story when you have controversy.''

Or a phenomenon.

Already in Miami - and to the team's chagrin, given that Sacramento is next on the schedule and therefore supposed to be the focus - there's no shortage of talk about Thursday night's home game against the New York Knicks, and none of that buzz is surrounding the years-old rivalry between the teams.

No, the Jeremy Lin craze is going strong, with ticket demand for Thursday rivaling what was going on during last season's NBA finals against Dallas.

So as Linsanity reigns, other NBA story lines like the Heat passing Chicago for the NBA's best record, San Antonio taking a 10-game winning streak into its game Monday night, even the looming All-Star weekend seem almost forgotten.

"We don't know if people get bored (with Miami winning) or not,'' forward LeBron James said. "We just know there's a lot more going on. I guess there's other, better story lines right now going on in the league, so we can go out and just play the game and just try to do it at a high level. Let everybody else get the headlines right now and just play Miami Heat basketball.''

Miami's numbers of late, including this six-game winning streak, are flirting with absurd.

Wade has connected on at least half his shots in 10 straight games, his longest run since doing that 11 straight times as a rookie. The Heat are shooting 49.2 percent over their last six games - the second-best mark in the league since Feb. 10, 0.1 percent off Oklahoma City's pace - while holding teams to an NBA-best 39.3 percent mark from the floor over that span.

Things are going so well for Miami, neither Wade nor James have been asked to play much in fourth quarters lately.

"Getting tired of sitting down in the fourth quarter, personally,'' James said Monday, the look on his face making it clear that he wasn't being entirely serious. "It's messing up my averages.''

James and Wade might not have to play much in the fourth Tuesday, either. Sacramento is 3-16 on the road - 0-4 thus far on a six-game trip - and has lost its last three against the Heat by at least 20 points.

The Kings have lost six in a row and 14 of 15 in the series, and their nine consecutive losses in South Beach have been by an average of 17.8 points.

James scored 31 points in 30 minutes in the Heat's 117-97 home win over Sacramento last Feb. 22.

James has been talked about as an MVP frontrunner for weeks already and was at the center of a huge story last week when he said he would not rule out one day maybe returning to Cleveland as a player. The Heat are sending six representatives to All-Star weekend, where the second half of the season, the chase for the 2012 championship - and the loss in the 2011 finals - are sure to be popular topics.

So when the all-about-Miami craze returns, the Heat say they'll be ready.

"We're comfortable in our world now,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday. "There can be a lot of noise. It can be relatively minimal noise. I think we're able now to compartmentalize and focus on what's real, our team and trying to improve and trying to get ourselves ready to play at our optimal level during the playoffs. That's the only thing that matters.''

Wade almost said he's welcoming the break, both in terms of getting some late-game minutes off, and without the levels of all-the-time scrutiny that has seemed to follow the Heat since he, Bosh and James teamed up in 2010.

"It's great,'' Wade said. "We're focusing on what we need to do. The only attention we're thinking about is giving each other the attention that we need as a team and making sure that everyone in here knows how they important they are to our success and what our goal is. Our goal is to be the best team in the NBA at the end of the year and not right now.''

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