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HOUSTON (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat went through a very tough stretch in early January but are hoping that things are finally turning around.
The Heat have followed up four straight losses with four straight wins and will try to keep the arrow pointing up when they visit the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
The Heat battled injuries all throughout January and are nearly healthy with February here, and only Hassan Whiteside (back) is questionable among the starters.
Whiteside missed the last five games and Miami moved to a smaller lineup with Amar’e Stoudemire starting at center and Chris Bosh sliding over to the middle at times with the second unit.
“The ball has really been moving,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters following a 105-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. “More guys have been involved, and I think that’s been the improvement.”
The Rockets have had trouble stopping teams from moving the ball of late and lost three in a row while surrendering an average of 123 points.
Houston center Dwight Howard was ejected from each of the last two games and is unhappy with how contact on the inside is being officiated.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Sun (Miami), ROOT (Houston)
ABOUT THE HEAT (27-21): Miami is happy with the winning streak but knows it needs a defensive anchor like Whiteside in the middle to go deep into the playoffs, and the center is getting closer to a return.
Whiteside (strained left hip) continues to increase his workouts and was on the court shooting prior to Sunday’s contest.
“The biggest part now is just running,” Whiteside told reporters. “You use your abs a lot, your oblique a lot running and turning, a lot of stuff I do during games.”
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (25-25): Houston interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff was not afraid to call out the referees after Saturday’s 123-122 loss to the Washington Wizards.
“It’s not fair the way the referees ref Dwight,” Bickerstaff told reporters. “You can go back and look at clip after clip after clip. They initiate contact with him, they grab him, they hold him. Dwight gets punished more than anybody in the league. The referees need to be held accountable.”
Howard still managed to score 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes on Saturday.
- Rockets G James Harden has scored 33 or more points in three of the last four games.
- Heat G Tyler Johnson (shoulder) will have surgery and miss the next two months.
- Howard sat out and Whiteside collected 25 points and 15 rebounds in Miami’s 109-89 home win over Houston on Nov. 1.
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