NEW YORK (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Don’t look now but the Miami Heat are still the hottest team in the NBA.
The Heat looks to build off an inspiring late comeback and they continue in their quest to seal an Eastern Conference playoff spot when they visit the fading New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Hassan Whiteside’s tip-in at the buzzer gave Miami a 97-96 victory at Detroit on Tuesday, after the Heat trailed by four points with under a minute to go, to ease the pain of a worrisome 1-3 stretch.
Goran Dragic poured in 28 points for Miami, which holds a one-game lead over Chicago for the eighth spot in the East and is just two games out of fifth place after starting the season with 11 wins in 41 contests.
The Heat will try to take advantage of the Knicks in a home-and-home set over the next three days – first attempting to improve on a disappointing road record (15-22), which is second worst among the 16 teams currently in playoff positions.
The Knicks snapped a five-game losing streak Monday with a 109-95 victory over Detroit as Derrick Rose poured in 27 points and the team shot 53.6 percent from the field.
“It was kind of a must-win for the team morale,” New York’s Carmelo Anthony, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore knee, told reporters after scoring 21.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE HEAT (36-38): Dragic reached 20 points for the first time in six games with his offensive outburst, draining 9-of-16 from the field, and Whiteside finished with 17 points and nine boards in the victory.
Whiteside’s 15-game double-double streak came to an end, but the 7-0 center made 7-of-13 from the field and continues to lead the NBA in rebounding (14.1).
Power forward James Johnson has been a major factor all season for the Heat, scoring 16 in Tuesday’s victory after producing 20 to go along with six assists in the loss to Boston on Sunday.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (28-46): Rose has picked up his production of late while averaging 21.6 points the last five games and Kristaps Porzingis went 10-for-16 from the field against Detroit to score 25.
Center Willy Hernangomez, who got his 14th start Monday, has also continued to show progress – averaging 16.3 points on 22-of-35 shooting the last three contests.
Center Joakim Noah (5.0 points, 8.8 rebounds) could be cleared to play soon after undergoing knee surgery, which would allow him to start serving a 20-game suspension for taking a banned substance.
- Miami G Tyler Johnson was limited to two points on 1-of-8 shooting Tuesday after averaging 17.8 in his previous five games.
- The Knicks won the only other meeting this season 114-103 in Miami on Dec. 6 as Anthony scored 35.
- New York F Lance Thomas has missed the last three games with a hip injury and is questionable for Wednesday.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Sports Direct Inc. contributed to this report.)