NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 18th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (27-15) at Miami Heat (30-12), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The suddenly struggling Miami Heat will aim to avoid their longest losing streak of the season Tuesday night when the entertain Southeast Division rival Atlanta in the shadow of South Beach.
Miami has hit a three-game hiccup thanks in large part to a series of injuries to its three stars, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
With James sitting on the sidelines for a second straight game on Saturday, the Heat finished up a five-game road trip with a 99-96 setback in Chicago. Bulls sharpshooter Kyle Korver grabbed a key rebound and drilled a go-ahead three-pointer with 25.5 seconds left that helped the Bulls pull out the tight victory in that one.
The Heat were playing without James, who is dealing with a sprained left ankle, for a second consecutive game and lost Bosh during the third quarter of the contest, also to a left ankle sprain, after the big man had scored 17 points.
Wade, who is dealing with a sore knee, sank two three-pointers late in the fourth quarter to put Miami ahead, but missed a potential tying shot in the closing seconds as the Heat lost their third straight.
"On the road, that's what you want is to have a chance to win," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. "We had a couple chances there at the end. During the course of the game, they outplayed us in the effort areas, loose balls and second-chance points...and I think that was really the difference in the game."
James, Wade and Bosh all missed practice together for the first time this season on Monday. However, Wade expects to gut it out again tonight while James hopes to return. Bosh, meanwhile, looks like he will miss his first contest of the season although an MRI Monday showed no serious damage.
The Heat, who had won 21 of 22 prior to their three-game slide, are 15-4 in Miami during 2010-11.
The Hawks, meanwhile, bounced back from their first home loss in seven weeks on Monday when Joe Johnson hit a pair of free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining and finished with 36 points, as Atlanta earned a hard-fought 100-98 win over the Sacramento Kings at Philips Arena.
Tied at 96-all with 36.7 seconds left in the fourth, Johnson's nifty reverse layup was matched by Tyreke Evans' lay-in that tied things at 98-98 and 11.6 seconds to play. Out of an Atlanta timeout, Johnson controlled the ball, made his move to the basket and was fouled by Evans with under a second left. Johnson calmly made both free throws to give the Hawks the win.
Al Horford turned in a huge game with 23 points, nine rebounds, a career-high seven blocks and six assists, while Josh Smith had 19 points and 10 boards for Atlanta, which has won six of its last seven overall and rebounded from Saturday's loss to Houston.
"Defensively for the first three quarters our energy and effort were none existent," Johnson said. "I told our guys we have to get some stops if we plan on winning this game. We got stops and easy baskets and were able to pull it out."
Atlanta, which is three games behind Miami in the Southeast, has historically struggled in South Beach, losing 25 of its last 28 trips to south Florida since the start of the 1996-97 season, including an 89-77 setback on Dec. 4.
01/18 10:33:45 ET