Reporting Tim Kephart
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat will try to break the franchise record for longest winning streak Monday night when the team squares off with the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.
The Heat will be completing a back-to-back set of games after disposing of the New York Knicks on Sunday, 99-93. The win was Miami’s first over the Knicks this season, but the team’s 14th straight victory which tied the franchise record.
In Sunday’s game, Heat superstar LeBron James hyper-extended his knee during the game. Still, James finished the game with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists and took over the game in the fourth quarter.
The Heat trailed by as many 16 points in the first half before closing the gap and pulling ahead in the second half. In the second half, James stuck to Knicks star Carmelo Anthony like glue and limited him to just 3-11 shooting after Anthony scored 24 points in the first half.
The game in Minneapolis should be a complete mismatch with the Eastern Conference’s best team playing the Western Conference’s worst team. But, Miami has played down to its level of competition at times during the streak.
The Heat have been averaging 107.7 points and shooting 51.6 percent during the 14-game winning streak. The streak includes victories over the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. Playing in the Target Center may be the worst thing the Timberwolves could face.
James averages 32.6 points on 54.8 percent shooting while winning his last seven games in Minneapolis including the last two with Miami. Overall, he has led his teams to 13 wins in a row over Minnesota.
“His motor is limitless. I don’t want to take that for granted. I don’t just want to assume that he can play 40-plus minutes, but he had to do it on both ends,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Couldn’t get him out in the fourth quarter and if I would have tried, he probably would have strangled me. He was strong and was at his strongest after 40 minutes of basketball.”
And while the majority of the attention has been given to James, Dwyane Wade is quietly getting healthy and his game is reaping the rewards. Over the last five games, Wade is averaging 27.6 points on 61 percent shooting.
On the flip side, Minnesota has struggled to get anything going in the right direction this season. The Timberwolves, who have wandered the wilderness since Kevin Garnett left the team several years ago, have stumbled to losses in 21 of their last 25 games, including five straight losses.
Miami will face Minnesota Monday night, Orlando Wednesday night, and Philadelphia Friday night leading up to the Heat’s big focus, the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
Indiana has had Miami’s number this season and are widely considered to be the best challengers in the Eastern Conference to the Heat’s path to the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year. Miami currently leads Indiana by 6.5 games in the Eastern Conference.
The game against Indiana is scheduled for Sunday at the AmericanAirlines Arena where the Heat is 26-3 on the season.
Miami tips off against the Timberwolves at 8 p.m.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)