Heat-Nets Preview

The Associated Press

After struggling on the road against teams with winning records for a month, the Miami Heat picked up a much-needed victory by rallying past a likely playoff-bound opponent.

Any confidence gained with that victory would be lost with an unlikely defeat to the New Jersey Nets.

Hoping to build on their latest win, the Heat look to beat the Nets for a 10th straight time when they meet Monday night in New Jersey.

Miami (42-17) entered Sunday's potential playoff preview against New York at Madison Square Garden having lost eight of nine road games to teams with winning records since the All-Star break. It seemed like it might be headed to another defeat trailing 79-75 with 8:08 remaining before going on a 12-1 run over the next four minutes.

The Heat went on to win 93-85 to clinch the Southeast Division as LeBron James had 29 points and 10 rebounds while Dwyane Wade added 28 points and nine boards.

"It's all about perseverance and just continuing to stay with it,'' said Chris Bosh, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds. "We know we're a great road team, we just have to go out there and prove it night in and night out and I think we're going to do a better job and continue to play well, and hopefully this will give us some momentum.''

Playing in New Jersey should certainly help the Heat, the likely No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, pick up another win away from Miami.

The Heat, winners of 12 straight over teams currently with losing records, have won nine in a row over the Nets (22-39) since a 96-88 loss March 20, 2009.

James, who has personally won 13 consecutive games over New Jersey, has led the way in this season's two meetings, totaling 53 points on 71.4 percent shooting.

The outcomes haven't been close in the five matchups since the start of last season, with Miami outscoring the Nets by an average of 18.0 points, limiting them to 85.8 points per game on 37.5 percent shooting.

New Jersey is one of the league's lowest-scoring teams at 93.5 points per game and is 3-29 when scoring 94 or less. The Heat, who have yielded an average of 87.7 points in their last three games, are 31-3 when allowing 94 points or fewer.

The Nets are coming off another sluggish offensive showing in Saturday's 94-82 loss to Boston. They were tied at 48 at halftime, but New Jersey shot 23.4 percent - including 13.3 percent from 3-point range - after the break.

"They played harder and played better,'' Deron Williams said. "They took us out of our rhythm, and then we couldn't stop them at the other end.''

Williams had 14 assists but missed 9 of 12 shots and scored 12 points. In two games against the Heat this year, the All-Star point guard is averaging 13.0 points - 8.0 less than his team-leading average.

Wade had 13 points in 15 minutes in his lone games versus New Jersey this season, a 108-78 home win March 6.

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