Nets, Heat try to keep playoff hopes alive

( - A pair of Eastern Conference inhabitants on the outside looking in collide Wednesday in South Beach, as the Miami Heat take on the Brooklyn Nets at American Airlines Arena.

Miami is just a half-game behind Charlotte for the eighth spot in the standings and Brooklyn sits three games off the pace.

The Heat are in the midst of playing nine of 11 games at home and have split the first two tests of a three-game homestand versus Sacramento and Boston. After defeating the Kings in overtime on Saturday, the Heat dropped a 100-90 decision to Boston Monday night.

Dwyane Wade pumped in 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting, Michael Beasley scored 14 points off the bench and Mario Chalmers netted 12 points for the Heat, who made 42 percent from the field and had won three in a row at home. Wade's 3- pointer late in the game made it 81-78, but Miami would get no closer.

Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned after missing a game with an ankle injury, but was ejected late in the third quarter after picking up a Flagrant 2 foul after he blindsided Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk to the floor with a shove near the basket.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Whiteside's actions will be "corrected."

"Everyone is responsible to the team," said Spoelstra.

Whiteside was suspended one game and is averaging 10.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game since signing with Miami midway through the season.

Wade wasn't too pleased with Whiteside afterward.

"Very (disappointed)," Wade said. "We all are. If you're a Heat fan, you are. In this locker room, you are. Everybody. He's going to have to learn. He's been learning the hard way. Hopefully, he changes his mentality quick."

The Heat are 13-18 at home and will visit Toronto Friday before returning home for three more games versus Cleveland, Portland and Denver.

Heat guard Goran Dragic (back) and forward Udonis Haslem (wrist/ankle/knee) are questionable Wednesday. Center Chris Andersen (ankle) is doubtful.

Brooklyn recorded a disappointing 1-4 mark on its recent homestand and lost the last four games on the stay.

The Nets will play four in a row away from home against Miami, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Cleveland, and have a 14-18 mark as the guest. The Nets went 3-5 on a road trip earlier this month.

New Orleans handed Brooklyn a 111-91 defeat on Tuesday, as Brook Lopez and Jarrett Jack scored 15 points apiece. Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young and Deron Williams all had 10 points for the Nets, who shot 41.7 percent from the field and led by 14 in the first quarter.

Brooklyn, though, managed 34 points over the second and third quarters.

"Every game at this point is a big game," Williams said.

The Nets need a win Wednesday night to keep their postseason hopes intact and are 0-3 against the playoff-hopeful Heat this season. Miami has won five straight in this series, including the playoffs.