NBA Basketball

Heat fighting for postseason as Lakers come to town

MIAMI -- Maybe the recent trade acquisition of shooting guard Dwyane Wade was more than just nostalgic.

Wade, who spent his first 13 seasons with the Heat -- winning three NBA titles -- returned to Miami Feb. 9 but in a diminished capacity.

No longer a star, Wade is averaging just 11.2 points -- which is, by far, the worst scoring stat of his career.

But on Tuesday night, Wade, 36, turned back the clock. He scored a season-high 27 points -- including the game-winning jump shot with 5.9 seconds left -- to help the Heat rally past the Philadelphia 76ers 102-101.

"This was the toughest shot I've had to make since I've been back," Wade said. "It felt good seeing the court the way I remember seeing it."

Wade said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has given him a lot of confidence of late.

"It started (Monday) in practice," Wade said. "(Spoelstra) gave me the ball and kept me on offense most of the day, which has never happened before. He told me to be myself. It was good to see that confidence from him and the guys.

"I'm at my best at the end of games. I'm not always going to make every shot. ... (But) it was good to be back in that position."

On Thursday night, Wade and the Heat (32-29) will play host to the Los Angeles Lakers (26-34) at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Lakers, who are in 11th place in the Western Conference, have already matched last season's win total.

The Heat, which is 16-12 at home this season, has won just three of its past 11 games overall and is clinging to the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Los Angeles is 11-20 on the road, but the Lakers are playing better lately, winning three games in a row and taking seven of their past 10 contests overall.

In their most recent effort, the Lakers routed the host Atlanta Hawks 123-104 on Monday night.

Nine different Lakers scored in double figures.

"We played the right way," Lakers forward Brandon Ingram told the media after scoring a team-high 21 points. "We always talk about finding the best shot for our team and just trying to move the ball in the best way."

Indeed, three Lakers picked up at least five assists in the Hawks game -- Ingram with six and point guards Lonzo Ball and Isaiah Thomas with five each.

Ball, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, played 24 minutes off the bench as he continues to return to form.

He missed 15 games due to a left-knee injury, and he is now playing with a minutes-restriction. He was also held out of last Saturday's game against the Sacramento Kings after playing 17 minutes the previous night against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Lakers are also fairly deep right now, which explains why veteran wing player Corey Brewer agreed on Wednesday to a contract buyout, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"I just want to play basketball," Brewer told The Times. "It's tough not to be playing. I know I can still play. ... I helped the (Lakers young) guys as much as I could. There's a lot of good guys (on the team)."

Updated February 28, 2018

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