Heat hope to get on track, host Houston

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat are sputtering and things won't get any easier Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Houston Rockets to American Airlines Arena.

The Heat have lost two in a row, both at home. That hasn't happened since the 2010-11 season. Miami has dropped five of six overall and fell 3 1/2 games behind the Indiana Pacers for Eastern Conference supremacy.

"We haven't been in a stretch like this since probably the 2010-11 season," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade. "When we were in that stretch, we had to figure it out. It's the same thing with this. Something is off with this team. We as a unit got to figure out what's off."

On Friday, the Denver Nuggets marched into South Beach and left with a 111-107 victory.

Ray Allen paced Miami with 22 points while going 5-of-7 from 3-point range, with LeBron James tallying 21 points and Wade 19. Mario Chalmers finished with 16, followed by 14 from Chris Anderson and 11 out of Chris Bosh.

The Nuggets' bench outscored the Heat's by 17 and the Denver second unit built a five-point lead at the break. The Nuggets were ahead by 14 at the start of the fourth, but Miami fought back. Denver made its free throws late and left with a win.

Miami better get things together quickly with the Rockets in town. Houston beat the two-time defending champs by three at the Toyota Center on Mar. 4, but the Rockets have fallen on tough times lately.

The Rockets have dropped two in a row after a five-game winning streak. Both of Houston's setbacks came on the road and no one would blame the Rockets for this rut. The first two games of this sojourn were in Oklahoma City and Chicago.

On Thursday, the Bulls clobbered the Rockets, 111-87 at the United Center.

The Rockets are the third-best offensive team in the NBA with an average of 106.2 points per game. In Houston's last eight losses, the Rockets have failed to crack the 100-point plateau.

James Harden was held to a season-low tying eight points for the Rockets, who have lost back-to-back contests for the first time since Jan. 24-25, both against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Jeremy Lin led the way with 21 points for the Rockets, who also received 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks from Dwight Howard. Houston shot 35.4 percent, including a 5-of-26 showing from 3-point range.

"We did not come out ready to play. I have no idea why," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "If I knew I would stop it. We didn't do anything offensively or defensively to start the game."

The Bulls were eight clear at the break, then exploded with a 20-2 run to put the game essentially out of reach.

The Rockets are fourth in the Western Conference, two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers, who sit in fifth.

Houston's win almost two weeks ago snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Heat. Miami has won four in a row as the host in this series.