MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – It’s been quite the season for the Miami Heat so far.
Miami looked like a team going nowhere when it owned an 11-30 record at the season’s midway point.
The Heat have been one of the top teams in the league since that time and look for their 22nd victory in 27 games when they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
Miami’s uprising has allowed it to move within one-half game of Milwaukee for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.
Standout center Hassan Whiteside has been one of the leaders of the revival as he recorded 26 points and 21 rebounds in Sunday’s 102-98 loss to Indiana for his fifth 20-20 performance of the campaign.
New Orleans is 3-6 in the nine games center DeMarcus Cousins has played since being acquired from Sacramento, but one of the victories was Tuesday’s 100-77 thrashing of visiting Portland.
“We’re continuing to learn more and more about each other and where we like the ball on the floor, what moves we like and everything like that,” Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis told reporters. “We’re getting better the more we play with each other. Right now, we’re just trying to find our groove.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE PELICANS (27-40): Cousins scored 22 points and Davis registered 15 and 15 rebounds against Portland in a contest in which New Orleans allowed its fewest points of the campaign while committing a season-low five turnovers.
Cousins and Davis have experienced some spacing issues during their short time together, and the showing against the Trail Blazers is what coach Alvin Gentry expects to see.
“I thought DeMarcus and A.D. did a good job of taking advantage when they tried to go small and making them pay,” Gentry told reporters. “It’s a good win against a team that was scoring 120 a game in the last five games, so that’s the way we have to try to play.”
ABOUT THE HEAT (32-35): Point guard Goran Dragic missed Sunday’s game due to a right eye injury but returned to practice on Tuesday and plans to play against the Pelicans.
He took an elbow from Toronto guard Cory Joseph on Saturday, and the swelling that occurred overnight left him unable to open the eye.
“Pain is always there. If you touch it, it’s pain,” Dragic told reporters. “If I move around the eyebrow a little bit, it hurts. But I mean, I already played with a lot of injuries (when) it was hurting. The main thing is try to open the eye. Now it’s open, so I’m fine.”
- The Heat have won six of their last seven home games against the Pelicans.
- Davis twisted his left ankle against Portland during the second quarter – X-rays were negative – before returning and expects to play Wednesday.
- Miami SG Dion Waiters has posted four straight 20-point efforts and is averaging 23.3 during that stretch.
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