PHOENIX (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Heat have been struggling of late, and a west coast trip is probably not the best remedy.
After a difficult three-game trip against some of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns’ schedule is easing up as they return home.
That might not sound quite right against Miami, but it certainly fits given the Heat’s recent form as they prepare for Tuesday night’s visit to Phoenix.
The Suns (12-10) won Friday in Dallas, lost a close one Saturday at Houston and closed the swing with Monday’s 121-120 overtime loss at the buzzer to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Eric Bledsoe got his first career triple-double before the game went to overtime and finished with 27 points, a career-best 16 assists and 11 rebounds against his former team.
“I’m mad we didn’t get the ‘W,'” he said. “Stats don’t mean nothing. At the end of the day, I go out there to play the game the right way.”
Over his last eight games, Bledsoe is averaging 21.4 points, but he’s been held to 6.5 across four games against the Heat.
The recent success has helped soften the loss of Isaiah Thomas, who has missed seven games with a bruised ankle. Thomas has averaged 21.0 points in five career games against the Heat with a 51.5 percent mark from 3-point range.
It was the Suns’ fourth loss in six games, though they could recover with two home games that includes a meeting with Detroit on Friday.
Miami (9-11), making a third stop on a five-game trip, is in danger of losing five straight for the first time since Feb. 27-March 8, 2011.
It’s dropped the previous four by a 107.8-90.0 average, and opponents have shot 55.9 percent with the latest coming in Sunday’s 103-87 loss at Memphis. The Grizzlies shot 58.9 percent and went 8 of 13 from 3-point range.
“Truth be told, we’re giving 59, 55-plus percent every game from the field, and even if we do take the lead or even if it’s a close game, you’re probably going to lose more games than you’re going to win if you give up 55-plus percent shooting,” said Chris Bosh, who was limited to 12 points after scoring at least 20 in eight straight games.
“And this is a constant basis with this team. We have to bring that number down a lot if we expect to win.”
The 3-point shot in particular is quickly becoming the way the Heat go down with opponents shooting 53.4 percent on the losing streak.
“They didn’t even hurt us in (their) normal game, that’s what’s disappointing,” said coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team ranks 28th with an opponent field-goal percentage of 48.1. “It wasn’t really the power, paint, post-up game that you would expect.”
The Heat have also been held to 87 points or fewer in four of their last five games, and that’s a ceiling that seems very unlikely to get the job done against Phoenix. The Suns are 10-0 since the start of last season when holding teams under 90 points, and they’ve reached that mark in all but one game this season.
The Heat, however, have won eight straight over the Suns and six straight in Phoenix. Bosh has averaged 25.7 points in his last six visits.
Dwayne Wade, who has averaged 25.6 points on 58.4 percent shooting in five games since returning from a seven-game absence, hasn’t played in Phoenix since 2010 but has averaged 31.4 in five career games there.
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