The Miami Heat will face their fourth straight playoff contender when they put a 17-game home winning streak on the line tonight versus the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Heat lost at Boston on Sunday, but rebounded with back-to-back triumphs over Philadelphia and Oklahoma City in South Beach and will resume a five-game homestand this evening. Miami has reeled off 17 wins in a row at home and is coming off a 98-93 victory over the Western Conference-leading Thunder on Wednesday, as LeBron James scored a game-high 34 points to keep OKC at bay despite a 30-point night from fellow MVP candidate Kevin Durant.
Dwyane Wade returned from a one-game absence because of a sore left knee and registered 19 points. Wade's two free throws at the end sealed the win. Miami, which is an NBA-best 23-2 at home and hasn't lost at AmericanAirlines Arena since January 22 versus Milwaukee, is 2 1/2 games behind Chicago for first place in the Eastern Conference.
"You want to establish yourself at home," Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "It's just a pride thing. They beat us on their home court and we wanted to return the favor."
Miami's longest home winning streak is 18 set from Jan. 23- April 5, 2005. The Southeast Division-leading and playoff-bound Heat will also host Detroit and Boston on the homestand and has won eight of 11 games overall.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will continue their postseason push tonight and suffered a 95-85 loss at Dallas Wednesday night.
O.J. Mayo had 17 points and Marc Gasol recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for Memphis, which had won three in a row and five of six games. Memphis was outscored, 29-17, in the fourth quarter and shot 42.2 percent from the field. Rudy Gay had just eight points.
"I think we ran out of gas. I think we gave our best effort, for the most part," said Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, who scored 11 points. "In the fourth quarter, we couldn't score, shots weren't falling for us, and they got too many easy looks in transition. They got out and got some turnovers, and they were able to capitalize off of those for some easy buckets."
Memphis is 12-16 away from Beale Street and sits fifth in the Western Conference standings -- two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers. It will open a three-game homestand Saturday versus the Mavericks, Clippers and Suns.
The Grizzlies and Heat are meeting for the first and only time this season, and split a pair of matchups a year ago. Miami is 18-12 all-time against Memphis and 10-5 in games played on the shores of Biscayne Bay.