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News » Miami Heat Getting Inside 2009-11-23

Miami Heat Getting Inside 2009-11-23

Miami Heat Getting Inside 2009-11-23The Southeast Division has gone from one of the NBA's weakest to possibly its best, Hear coach Erik Spoelstra says, and it just got better with Antawn Jamison returning to the Wizards' lineup and the Bobcats acquiring Stephen Jackson for little in exchange.

The Heat's next two are against division opponents, at Orlando on Wednesday night and then a home game Friday night against Washington.

Factor in the Magic and Hawks standing at the top of the league, and it is possible four teams from the Southeast yet could make the playoffs.

"It's very competitive and it's very deep," Spoelstra said of the division that had provided the Eastern Conference with its worst teams in each of the last two seasons, the Heat in 2008 and the Wizards last season.

"Teams are competing hard, and all the teams that are in this division are defensive-minded and get after it on that end and also have some depth," Spoelstra said.

Fortunately, the Heat got Washington twice before Jamison's 31-point, 10-rebound season debut against Cleveland. Unfortunately, it has all four of its games remaining against the revamped Bobcats as well as all four against the Magic.

To put Charlotte's acquisition of Jackson into perspective, consider that over the previous two seasons, only eight players, including the Heat's Dwyane Wade, have averaged at least 20 points, four rebounds and four assists. Jackson is in that group along with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Vince Carter, Joe Johnson and Chris Paul.

"That just only bolsters Charlotte's lineup, especially from a scoring standpoint," Spoelstra said.

In recent years, the Magic and Hawks already had the Heat's number. Now the breaks figure to be minimal against the Wizards and Bobcats.

Those division banners hanging at AmericanAirlines Arena used to be a source of derision, as if beating out four teams amounted to much of an accomplishment.

But now, the 16 games in the division stand as a legitimate challenge.

"It is highly competitive," Spoelstra said.

HEAT 102, HORNETS 101: Udonis Haslem converted two jumpers in the final 45.7 seconds to help the Heat snap a three-game losing streak. The Heat had to rally after blowing the 11-point lead it held late in the third quarter.

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Added: November 23, 2009


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