The Miami Heat look to avoid just their second three-game slide of the season when they take on the worst team in the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats, tonight from the shores of Biscayne Bay.
Miami has dropped two in a row and four of seven games this month, and hasn't suffered three consecutive defeats since Jan. 10-13. The Heat had a chance to move closer to the top spot in the Eastern Conference last night, but dropped a 96-86 decision in overtime to the No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls.
The Heat were outscored, 12-2, in the extra session and received 30 points from LeBron James, while Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh netted 21 and 20 points, respectively, in a losing cause.
"It's tough. You reach these moments at times when you feel like you put so much into it collectively but can't get over the hump," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on the team's site. "We talked about it right before the game. We said, 'There is no easy road. What we're trying to do will be the hardest thing that we'll have to do collectively.'"
Miami sits four games behind the Bulls for the East's top spot and will put its 24-4 home record on the line tonight. The Southeast Division-leading Heat recently won 17 in a row at home from Jan. 24-April 4.
Charlotte is the only team in the NBA with single-digit victories at 7-50 and will try to stop a 14-game losing streak Friday.
The Bobcats' woes continued with Thursday's 109-85 loss versus Detroit, as Derrick Brown and D.J. Augustin each scored 13 points and D.J. White added 12 in a losing cause. Charlotte suffered its eighth loss in a row at home and hasn't tasted victory since a 107-103 triumph over Toronto on March 17.
"We were missing a lot of people," said Charlotte head coach Paul Silas. "I was having to play my young boys and we just didn't have it. Defensively we didn't stop anybody; rebounding-wise we didn't block out. It's just one of those nights where nothing went right for us."
Silas' club lost 16 in a row from Jan. 16-Feb. 15 this season and will try to stop an eight-game slide as the visitor. The Bobcats are only 3-27 away from home and 5-37 against the Eastern Conference this season.
Charlotte is winless in two matchups with Miami this season and has lost the previous seven meetings between the Southeast foes. The Bobcats are winless in four straight trips to south Florida.