(AP) — Facing the Kings in what could be Miami’s last visit to Sacramento might offer the Heat a good chance to end their current rough stretch.
Looking to avoid dropping three straight in the regular season for the first time in a year, the Heat try to continue their recent dominance of the distracted Kings on Saturday night.
Miami (23-11) lost three in a row to Boston in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, but has not done so in the regular season since Jan. 10-13. That slide also came out west, where the defending NBA champions play their next four contests to close a six-game trip.
It began with Tuesday’s 87-77 loss at Indiana and continued with a 92-90 defeat in Portland on Thursday. Loses in four of five away from home, the Heat are 7-8 on the road and have dropped five of eight overall – the only wins were against teams well below .500.
Chris Bosh scored 29 points Thursday, but Dwyane Wade was held to 18 and LeBron James to 15, snapping his 54-game streak of at least 20 points. Miami led by as many as 13 points but scored 38 in the second half, when Wade was limited to four points and shot 1 for 8 from the field.
“You can beat yourself up because you want it so bad, but there are the kind of games where you say, ‘Listen, a team beat us when we played our game,’ so you pat them on the back and say, ‘Good job,'” said Wade, who had scored 30 points Tuesday.
Miami averages 101.8 points but has failed to reach 100 in six of eight and none of the last four, scoring 88.8 per game. The Heat have remained competitive during that four-game stretch by holding opponents to an average of 86.5 points on 38.6 percent shooting.
They’ve averaged 113.3 points and shot 52.8 percent during a seven-game winning streak versus the Kings (13-23), and all but one of those matchups were decided by at least 12 points. Miami has won 15 of 16 in the series, including three straight and six of seven in Sacramento.
While Wade has averaged 37.0 points in his last three visits and 31.1 for his career, James has won his last six games there while averaging 33.3 points.
If the latest round of relocation talk involving the Kings plays out, the Heat could be making their last trip to Sacramento. Seattle investor Chris Hansen has contacted the Maloof family about buying the Kings, who if a deal went through could begin play in Seattle as early as 2013-14.
“It’s definitely going to be a distraction,” Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. “But we’re pros. We’ve got to figure out a way how to separate the two and then get ready to play.”
The Kings have dropped three straight, giving up more than 110 points in each.
They shot 49.4 percent but committed 20 turnovers in a 117-112 overtime loss to Dallas on Thursday. DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points but was ejected in overtime for elbowing the Mavericks’ Vince Carter in the face.
Cousins, averaging team highs of 17.6 points and 10.2 rebounds, could be facing another suspension after already serving three this season – two from the NBA and one from the Kings.
“I swear to God I didn’t try to do that. I’m just tired of being in these situations,” he said. “I’m pretty sure my reputation will come into play with the decision, but hopefully they’ll realize it wasn’t intentional.”
Cousins has been held to 23 points and 20 boards in three games versus Miami.