Rockets Take On Heat In Miami, Still 1.5 Games Behind Memphis For Final Playoff Spot

Houston Rockets (38-34) at Miami Heat (50-22), 6 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The surging Miami Heat play host to the playoff-hopeful Houston Rockets in the shadow on South Beach on Sunday.

The Heat are already assured of a playoff spot but have their eye on moving up the Eastern Conference standings and enter tonight's contest one-half game behind Boston for the second spot in the East.

Miami earned its fourth straight win on Friday when Dwyane Wade scored 39 points and LeBron James added 32 as the Heat pulled away for a 111-99 victory over Philadelphia in a late-season preview of a potential playoff series.

Chris Bosh scored 20, giving Miami's three stars 91 of the team's 111 points.

"That's tough to beat," said Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins.

Still, it took a 34-17 fourth quarter for the Heat to knock off the pesky 76ers for their seventh win in eight games.

"It was very puzzling the amount of turnovers (13) we had in the first half. It really took us out of our normal rhythm," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "With that said, it was very competitive in the second half. Our defense was about as active as it could be."

The Rockets, meanwhile, come in well-rested after a 131-112 win over Golden State in Space City back on Wednesday. Charles Hayes tallied his first career triple- double with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to lead Houston's well-balanced attack, which saw all starters score in double digits, in that one.

Kevin Martin scored 34 points, Courtney Lee added 25 and Luis Scola notched 20 with 10 rebounds for Houston, which matched a season-high with their fifth straight victory but remains 1 1/2 games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Kyle Lowry chipped in 13 points as the Rockets finished a six-game homestand at 5-1.

"I can't say how pleased I am with someone like Chuck (Hayes)," said Houston head coach Rick Adelman. "That's just terrific with a guy like that and the way he works and the things he's done. I can't emphasize enough the improvements he's made offensively to be more than just a screener. He's becoming a great passer. He attacks them. It's just a pleasure to watch a guy like that with his work ethic."

The Rockets, who are kicking off a three-game road trip that will also include visits to New Jersey and Philadelphia, have lost three consecutive to the Heat.

"You can only win your games because that's the only way we're going to get there," Adelman told Houston's website. "We started this thing by going on the road and winning, and that's what we're going to have to continue to do."

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