(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat hope to solidify their position in the Eastern Conference standings Sunday when they welcome the Detroit Pistons to American Airlines Arena.
The Heat stand in seventh place, 2 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks and a full game in front of the Boston Celtics. The Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets are lurking on the outside of the postseason picture.
Miami has dropped three of its last four, including a 99-86 road loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
Luol Deng scored 17 points to lead the Heat, who finished 1-3 on a four-game road trip. Dwyane Wade (knee) returned to score 13 points, but Miami was without Hassan Whiteside (hand) and Chris Andersen (calf) for a second game in a row.
"We're not trying to recapture anything, we are trying to get wins," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The Hawks led from the start, beginning the game with a 12-3 run keyed by eight points from Carroll. Miami was only as close as five points after that and Atlanta's lead reached double digits for good with 9:33 remaining in the second quarter.
The lead was as high as 26 in the third quarter and dipped only as low as 12 in the fourth.
Things don't get easy for the Heat. They host the world champion San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, then travel to Cleveland to face LeBron James and the Cavs on Thursday.
The Pistons aren't technically out of it in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Celtics by four games and have won four straight and two in a row on the road.
On Friday, Detroit toppled the Orlando Magic, 111-97, in Florida.
Reggie Jackson's 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists led the Pistons.
"We want to really tune in defensively," said Jackson. "The great teams in the league know sometimes you're not going to have your best night shooting, but if you play defense, you have a chance."
Tayshaun Prince scored a season-high 23 points off the bench, and Andre Drummond added 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Pistons started to pull away when they outscored Orlando 33-23 in the third quarter with 17 points from Jackson. After Anthony Tolliver's long 3 early in the period put Detroit in front, Jackson scored 11 of the Pistons' next 13 points. Detroit led 87-76 after three.
Detroit led by as many as 17 in the fourth. Jackson's jumper put the Pistons up 108-91, and his assist on Joel Anthony's layup with 1 1/2 minutes remaining secured his second triple-double of the season.
The Pistons beat the Heat in Motown on Feb. 3 to snap a three-game losing streak to Miami. The Heat are 6-1 in their last seven at home versus Detroit.