MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Heat are looking to build on their recent string of wins.
The Charlotte Hornets hadn’t defeated the Heat in over four years before finally getting the best of them earlier this month.
Not much has gone their way since.
The Hornets try to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat when they visit the Heat on Sunday.
Charlotte (4-9) had been outscored by an average of 13.4 points during a 16-game losing streak against Miami before pulling out a 96-89 win Nov. 5. Al Jefferson led the way with 28 points and 10 rebounds and Kemba Walker scored 18.
Charlotte’s previous win over Miami came 83-78 back on March 9, 2010.
“It’s good to get the monkey off our back,” Walker said afterward.
While the Hornets went on to beat Atlanta 122-119 in double-overtime two nights later, they’ve since dropped six of seven. Charlotte led by as many as 23 and appeared headed for victory before falling apart in the fourth quarter in Friday’s 105-100 loss to Orlando.
The Hornets were outscored 41-21 over the final 12 minutes as the Magic shot 15 of 21.
“We just got away from doing what we were doing,” said Jefferson, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds. “We relaxed and they turned it on and we didn’t respond.”
Walker added 15 points, a career-high 12 boards and eight assists, but Charlotte was outscored 60-44 in the paint. The Hornets were also outscored 23-9 at the foul line.
“We play stretches of great basketball – two or three great quarters – and then we play a bad quarter,” guard Gary Neal said. “It’s something that we’re just going to have to continue to work at and continue to fight so we can play a great 48 minutes. Right now we’re playing a great 40 or 42, and those six or eight minutes are costing us.”
The Heat (7-6) return home after defeating Orlando 99-92 on Saturday for their second win in six games. Chris Bosh posted 14 of his season-high 32 points in the fourth quarter and Mario Chalmers scored 24.
Miami took control after falling behind 73-70 with 9:34 to go.
“It’s going to be like that some nights and I have to take it on myself to shoot some good shots and get us going,” Bosh said.
Bosh had averaged 13.5 points on 28.3 percent shooting over a four-game stretch before scoring a combined 60 in the last two games, going 22 of 37 from the floor.
While Chalmers has never been much of a scorer, he’s taken on a bigger offensive role with the absence of injured guard Dwyane Wade, averaging 20.0 points over his last five games – well above his career mark of 8.8.
The Heat have been limited to an average of 84.0 points during a three-game home losing streak, their longest since a four-game slide Feb. 27-March 8, 2011.
The Hornets have scored 93.1 points per game in opening 1-6 on the road, and they’ve dropped nine straight in South Beach by an average of 15.5 points.
Wade has missed the last five games with a strained hamstring, leaving his status for Sunday unclear. He and Bosh combined for 48 points in the Nov. 5 loss to Charlotte.
Jefferson has put together five consecutive double-doubles against Miami, averaging 25.4 points on 56.0 percent shooting and 13.4 boards. He’s averaging just 7.1 rebounds on the season, his lowest mark in nine seasons as a regular starter.
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