Once 19 games below .500, the Heat are on verge of playoffs
NBA

Once 19 games below .500, the Heat are on verge of playoffs

The Miami Heat, once 11-30, is now tied with the Pistons for the eighth seed in the East.

Goran Dragic blew up like his eye in Wednesday's return to action against the Pelicans. 

The Heat point guard sat out one game with ugly black eye and sore mouth but played through it Wednesday to score 33 points, while Hassan Whiteside had 20 points and 17 rebounds in another win for the red-hot Heat. 


Once 11-30 earlier this season, Miami is now tied with the Pistons for eighth place in the East after winning for the 22nd time in 27 games, a stretch that includes 14 of15 at home.

"Nothing's guaranteed," coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the game. "Everybody's talking about how far we've come and what we've accomplished. We're not in the playoffs yet. But at least we were given an opportunity to show persistence and develop that."

Wayne Ellington added 19 points for the Heat, who made 16 3-pointers in the 120-112 win. 

Anthony Davis scored 27 points and DeMarcus Cousins, who was called for his 19th technical of the season in the loss, added 19 for the Pelicans. 

Studs of the night

Lou Williams enjoyed his best night since joining the Rockets in a revenge game against his old team, the Lakers. Sweet Lou poured in 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting with four rebounds and seven assists while registering a plus-25 as the Rockets matched their largest margin of victory (39) against L.A. in franchise history. 

James Harden (18 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists) also played well for his 17th triple-double of the season.


The Rockets' 139 points Wednesday marked the 54th consecutive game the team has scored over 100 points. 

Duds of the night

The Hornets: Playing without Nic Batum (migraines) really hurt Charlotte in a 98-77 blowout loss to the Pacers. All-Star Kemba Walker managed just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting while the team made just three (of 23) 3-point attempts. The loss was the Hornets' fourth in five games as Paul George lit them up for 39 points, five rebounds, three dimes and three steals. 

Highlight

Kawhi Leonard may have gotten ripped by head coach Gregg Popovich, but the MVP candidate was throwing down some impressive dunks against the Trail Blazers, including this poster of Noah Vonleh. 

Leonard finished with 34 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks but it wasn't enough as the Blazers won, 110-106. 

What's next

Jazz (43-25) at Cavaliers (44-22), 7 p.m. ET — Playoff contenders collide as the red-hot Jazz face the defending champions who are looking to end a recent skid. The Jazz, winners of six of their last seven, beat the Pistons Wednesday and could be a bit sluggish, a theme the Cavs have represented evidenced themselves by losing four of their last six. 

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