(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat are holding steady at the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference and hope that continues Wednesday versus the Los Angeles Lakers in the finale of a three-game homestand.
The Heat ended a two-game slide and evened their mark on this stay with Monday's 115-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Heat guard Goran Dragic couldn't escape the Valley of the Sun fast enough prior to the trade deadline and landed in South Beach with a fresh start.
Dragic scored 21 points and talked about facing his former teammates.
"It means a lot," Dragic said. "You always want to play well against your old teammates."
Phoenix big man Markieff Morris was slapped with a Flagrant Foul 2 during a fast break play against Dragic and was ejected from the game.
Tyler Johnson scored 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and Hassan Whiteside recorded a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade netted 16 with nine assists for the Heat, who exploded for 39 points in the second quarter and won for the third time in five tries.
The Heat scored 22 points off 19 turnovers and made 52.4 percent.
Whiteside was tossed from the game for getting into a scuffle with Suns big man Alex Len just minutes after the Morris incident. Whiteside has been valuable for Miami this season and has compiled 11 double-doubles over the previous 15 contests (14.8 ppg, 13.9 rpg).
Miami will visit Washington Friday before another three-game homestand versus Sacramento, Boston and Brooklyn.
The Lakers are winless in back-to-back games since a season-high three-game winning streak and dropped a 104-103 decision against the Charlotte Hornets Tuesday in the opener of a three-game road trip.
Jeremy Lin posted 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds off the bench and Carlos Boozer chipped in 15 points and 11 boards for Los Angeles, which has dropped nine of its last 12 contests. Lin is averaging 18.0 ppg since the All- Star break and has scored 10 or more points in eight of the last 11 games.
LA had a 30-27 lead after 12 minutes of play, then the Hornets won the next two quarters (47-40). Charlotte allowed 33 points in the final stanza and its solid play bridging the second and third quarters held up.
Three Hornets scored 20 or more points.
"We come out lackadaisical and the other team comes out with more aggressiveness," Lakers coach Byron Scott said.
Jordan Clarkson scored 19 points in defeat. Lakers guard Nick Young has missed the last four games with a sore knee and is questionable Wednesday.
The Lakers are only 7-23 on the road and will wrap up this journey Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies. They are 1-12 in the past 13 as the guest.
Los Angeles lost to Miami at home, 85-78, on Jan. 13 and has dropped five straight and nine of the last 10 games in this series.
The Heat have defeated the Lakers six straight times in south Florida.