(SportsNetwork.com) - The Brooklyn Nets have been hot lately, winning three straight, and they'll take that momentum into the Verizon Center Saturday night to face the Washington Wizards.
Brooklyn has not just this winning streak to claim their hotness, but also a 6-1 record in March and a 23-9 mark since Jan. 1. That is tops in the Eastern Conference, and, although the Nets have reached the fifth seed, they trail the Toronto Raptors by 3 1/2 games in the Atlantic Division.
Brooklyn's third straight victory came Wednesday night with an impressive 96-95 win in South Beach over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
Paul Pierce keyed the Nets with 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter. Pierce was 9-of-12 from the field, 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and 6-of-7 from the foul line for Brooklyn, which hadn't beaten Miami during the "Big 3" era (0-9) prior to this season.
"This is the class of the league. This is the two-time defending champions and we're coming down the stretch. These games are big," Pierce said.
The Heat had possession of the ball following a timeout with 3.5 seconds left, but Shaun Livingston knocked away a pass that was intended for LeBron James in the paint to seal the outcome.
Brooklyn is 3-0 against Miami this season.
Mirza Teletovic netted 17 points off the bench, while Livingston added 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in the triumph. Andray Blatche chipped in 11.
Kevin Garnett missed his seventh straight game with back spasms. He's expected to miss Saturday's game.
The Wizards ended a two-game slide Friday night with a 105-101 overtime victory in Orlando over the Magic.
Bradley Beal pinned a Jameer Nelson fastbreak layup with 1:06 left in overtime and John Wall scooped the rebound and dished to Trevor Ariza, who netted a 3- pointer to put the Wizards ahead and help Washington to the win
"The biggest play of the game, to me, was Brad hustling down to get the block, and I came back to get the rebound and found Trevor," Wall said.
Beal landed awkwardly while defending a play a few moments after the block and was carried to the locker room. It was diagnosed as a sprained ankle and he left the arena on his own power, but his availability for Saturday is unknown.
Wall and Ariza scored 21 apiece with Ariza chipping in 11 rebounds and Wall adding 11 assists for the Wizards, who embark on a four-game western trip following Saturday's tilt. Beal netted 20 and Marcin Gortat added 19 points and 14 boards. Trevor Booker was the fourth Washington player with a double- double as he had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Wizards have won both of this season's matchups, including one in Washington. The Wiz are 6-2 in their last eight as the host in this series.