Suns-Heat Preview

While much of their success has been predicated on their defense, the Miami Heat seem to be taking things to another level at the other end with Joe Johnson on board.

There's little reason to believe that won't continue against the swingman's former team.

The Heat look to build on a record-setting offensive performance Thursday night when they chase their 12th straight win over the Phoenix Suns, who hope to avoid a dubious streak on the road.

Miami (34-26) leads the Southeast Division by 1 1/2 games, mostly because it has allowed an Eastern Conference-low 96.9 points per game - a mark that ranks second in the NBA.

The Heat haven't been nearly as prolific offensively, sitting near the bottom of the league with 97.5 points per game and last with a 31.9 3-point percentage. They made a move to improve in that area Saturday, signing Johnson off waivers from Brooklyn.

The 34-year-old had averaged 13.4 points with a 46.0 3-point percentage in his last 25 games with the Nets. Now he's providing a spark for the Heat, totaling 36 points on 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) shooting from the field over back-to-back victories.

''Great pickup, Heat,'' center Hassan Whiteside said of Johnson, who played in Phoenix from 2002-05. ''He's an amazing player and I'm glad he's on our side.''

Johnson finished with 24 points in Tuesday's 129-111 home win over Chicago. Whiteside scored 26 with 14 rebounds and is averaging 20.0 and 15.7 over six straight double-doubles.

Luol Deng contributed 20 points, Dwyane Wade added 18 and seven assists and former Sun Goran Dragic had 17 and 11 as Miami scored a season-high point total and shot a franchise-record 67.5 percent - which also matched the NBA's top effort in the last 18 years.

"It's five-man basketball, guys are making the right play and if you see somebody open you follow the fundamental law of basketball and throw it to them," coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Spoelstra's club looks to improve to 6-2 since losing leading scorer Chris Bosh indefinitely because of a blood clot in his leg. There hasn't been any updates on his condition of late.

Phoenix (15-45) could have a tough time containing Miami since it ranks near the bottom of the league in defensive scoring (107.9) and field-goal percentage (47.2). The Suns have been even worse on the road, allowing 114.0 points on 50.2 percent shooting during a 16-game losing streak that is their longest since dropping a team-record 17 straight during the 1973-74 season.

"A lot of it is immaturity, not in a bad way, but just in a realistic way," interim coach Earl Watson said.

Alex Len had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Mirza Teletovic scored 17 on Tuesday as Phoenix let Charlotte hit 13 of 27 from 3-point range in a 126-92 road defeat. Len has averaged 18.0 points and 11.0 boards in his last five games, while Teletovic has scored 17.8 and made 43.1 percent from beyond the arc over his past 10.

Wade led the way with 27 points and Dragic added 22 on Jan. 8 when Miami won 103-95 at Phoenix. The Heat have scored 113.6 per game while taking the last five home matchups by an average of 17.6 points.

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