The Miami Heat needed an improbable late comeback to pull off perhaps their most impressive win of the season.
Extending their series winning streak to 10 in a row against the hapless Sacramento Kings on Friday night doesn't figure to be as nearly as challenging.
The Heat (19-6) looked as though they were on the way to losing to Indiana for the second time in nine days Wednesday, trailing by 15 midway through the third quarter. However, Miami chipped away enough to put itself in position for a 10-0 game-ending run and a 97-94 victory.
Dwyane Wade, whose 19.9 scoring average is his lowest since he was a rookie, tallied nine of his season-high 32 points in the fourth quarter.
"It shows we're a team that's been there before," Wade said. "No matter what the score is we always feel we have an opportunity to win the game."
Wade has missed six games due to knee soreness but is averaging 27.7 points over his last three contests while hitting 61.1 percent of his shots.
"Every game is different but his aggressiveness tonight is an indication that his knee - it's obviously not 100 percent - but it's feeling good," said LeBron James, who had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists despite playing on a sore left ankle after he twisted it in Monday's win over Utah.
James is averaging 10.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists over his last six games and 30.0 points over his last 12 matchups with Sacramento.
The Heat's nine-game winning streak over the Kings is their third-longest active streak against one team. They're also looking to improve to 6-0 against Western Conference foes and 23-3 all-time at home versus Sacramento.
The Kings (7-17) are 2-7 on the road following Wednesday's 124-107 loss in Atlanta. They led by two entering the fourth before being outscored 39-20 to fall for the 10th time in 13 games.
Sacramento allowed a season-high 58.0 field goal percentage and Atlanta was 15 of 25 from 3-point range, including eight by Kyle Korver.
"I guess I'm not doing a good enough job of giving them a game plan that they can execute," coach Michael Malone said. "And I'm not doing a good enough job of explaining who the players are on their team that can make shots."
Offense, however, hasn't been a problem for the Kings as they're averaging 104.0 points over their last eight. Rudy Gay scored 22 on Wednesday and is averaging 19.0 points on 52.9 percent shooting since being acquired from Toronto. He was shooting 38.8 percent for the Raptors.
DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and is averaging 25.0 along with 12.4 rebounds over his last seven games. He had 24 points and 15 rebounds in Sacramento's last meeting with Miami, a 141-129 double-overtime road loss on Feb. 25. Cousins had averaged 8.5 points over his first four career matchups with the Heat while shooting 24.5 percent.
James had 40 points and 16 assists in the last meeting, while Wade scored 39.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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