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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, April 1st (All times eastern)

Miami Heat (52-23) at Minnesota Timberwolves (17-58), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat are closing in on their first Southeast Division title since the 2006-07 campaign and will resume a four-game road trip tonight against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center.

Miami is five games ahead of Orlando in the division standings with seven contests left in the regular season and can capture a division title with a win and a Magic loss tonight. The Magic host Charlotte in central Florida.

The Heat bounced back from a tough loss in Cleveland with Wednesday's 123-107 rout of the Washington Wizards in DC, as LeBron James, who had a triple-double in his second return to Cleveland the previous night, finished with 35 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals against the Wizards.

Dwyane Wade added 33 points and nine assists for the Heat, who are 1-1 on the road trip and 24-13 away from south Florida this season. They're also 2 1/2 games behind Chicago for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with Boston two games off the pace. Emotions boiled over late in the first half when Miami center Zydrunas Ilgauskas controlled the ball at the top of the arc and swung his elbows around while being guarded by Wizards rookie John Wall. Wall wasn't happy with Ilgauskas and tried to throw a punch at the big man's midsection, leading to some pushing and shoving.

Ilgauskas and Wall each received flagrant foul type two's and were tossed from the contest. Heat forward Juwan Howard and Washington center JaVale McGee were called for a double technical foul. Howard was also ejected from the game.

"We're not backing away from physical games," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

The Heat will also visit New Jersey on the road swing and have won nine of their last 11 games.

Minnesota hopes to put the brakes on a lengthy eight-game losing streak when it closes out a three-game homestand this evening.

The Timberwolves continued its losing trend with Wednesday's 108-91 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls, as Kevin Love made his return from a three-game absence because of a groin strain to post 16 points and nine rebounds. Anthony Randolph had 15 points off the bench and Michael Beasley scored 12 for Minnesota, which is 12-26 in the Twin Cities.

"They have a lot of good vets on their team," Love said of the Bulls. "They have guys all the way through the lineup that know their roles and play to get the most out of each other."

Anthony Tolliver chipped in 14 points in a losing cause. Minnesota is winless in its last three home games.

Miami won the first matchup of the season with the Wolves by a 129-97 score on Nov. 2 in south Florida behind 20 points and 12 assists from James.

04/01 12:39:40 ET


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