The Miami Heat will try to avoid a three-game losing streak for the first time this season Saturday night when they host the New Orleans Hornets.
The Heat have dropped their last two, something that hadn't happened yet this campaign. To make matters worse, the losses have both been of the ugly variety.
On Tuesday, the Heat allowed the Washington Wizards their second victory of the season with a 105-101 victory. Two days later, the New York Knicks came to Miami and dusted the defending champs, 112-92. The Knicks were without their leading scorer and best player Carmelo Anthony, who missed the game with a lacerated finger.
"We've got a lot of work to do," LeBron James said after the Knicks loss. "We can't just act like what happened tonight, or in Washington, or some of the games we won that we probably shouldn't have won, we can't act like we made those happen."
James led the way against the Knicks with 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He missed his second straight triple-double, but no other Heat player scored more than 15 points.
Defensively, Miami allowed 18 made 3-pointers and forced only seven turnovers against the Knicks.
The Heat could rebound on the defensive side of things on Saturday given that the Hornets netted more than 90 points just once over their recent five-game homestand. New Orleans went 1-4 on the residency, the lone win a 102-81 decision over Milwaukee on Dec. 3.
The Hornets lost their second straight and 11th in 13 games on Friday night, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies 96-89. Austin Rivers had a career-high 15 pints, while Ryan Anderson and Brian Roberts had 15 points each as well.
Roberts fed Jason Smith for a layup with 3:45 to play that pulled New Orleans within one, but Memphis countered with a 10-2 run.
"It's close to the right effort," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams. "We competed; we played hard. If we could (only) add some more execution that complements the effort. I'm proud of how we competed, but my heart aches because you lost a game you had a chance to win."
Center Robin Lopez entered the contest with four straight double-digit scoring efforts, but managed only two points while going 1-of-6 from the field and committing four turnovers.
New Orleans played without rookie forward Anthony Davis, the top pick of the 2012 draft, for a 10th game in a row because of a left ankle injury.
The Hornets have won six of their last nine against the Heat and last won in Miami on Apr. 7, 2009, dropping three straight trips there.