Six storylines to follow during tonight's Fan Night action
POSTED: Feb 2, 2016 12:41 PM ET
Dwyane Wade and Miami visit Houston with eyes on a fifth-straight win.
After a tough mid-January stretch of seven losses in eight games, the Heat appear to be back. Miami has strung together four straight wins and looks to win a fifth straight for the first time since early 2014. The Heat are scoring 100.8 points per game during this stretch after being held to just 80.3 points during their four-game losing streak less than two weeks ago. Dwyane Wade is a big reason for this turnaround with averages of 23.6 points on 50.0 percent shooting over his last five games. The Heat will look to continue this offensive resurgence tonight against a Rockets team that is fifth worst in defensive rating, a sharp contrast from Miami's own defense (fifth best).
The Rockets find themselves in a position similar to the one the Heat were in less than two weeks ago. Houston enters on a three-game losing streak and hopes to avoid its second four-game losing streak of the season. During this streak, the Rockets have allowed 123.0 points per game, which is worse than their already bad season average of 106.6 (second worst in the NBA). The Rockets must rely on James Harden and their offense if they want to win tonight. Harden has been strong as of late -- 30.6 points on 46.9 percent shooting from 3-point range, 9.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists over his last seven games. The Rockets are 2-12 when they fail to reach 100 points.
The Rockets are better when Dwight Howard is on the floor. This is obvious. But the eight-time All-Star has been ejected from his last two games due to technical fouls and is suspended for tonight's game after making contact with a referee on Saturday. With Howard out, backup Clint Capela will match up against veteran Amar'e Stoudemire, who is in a middle of a resurgence of late (9.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 59.5 percent shooting over his last six games). Despite his recent offensive success, Stoudemire still struggles on defense, so Capela should be able to put together a solid offensive performance tonight.
Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett matchup for the final time tonight on NBA TV. Unfortunately, Garnett is doubtful to play after missing the last four games with a sore right knee. Bryant is questionable after missing multiple games over the last couple weeks due to a sore right shoulder. Regardless, these two future Hall of Famers deserve to be recognized for the incredible rivalry they have developed over the years. Take a look back at their careers against each other below:
As Kobe and Garnett say their farewells to the league, Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell say their hellos. The top two overall picks from the 2015 Draft are on opposite paths heading into tonight's game. Towns has recorded four-straight double-doubles and is averaging 24.5 points on 62.1 percent shooting and 12.3 rebounds during that span. The 20-year-old is leading the Timberwolves' offense and is tapping into his tremendous talent (especially with Garnett mentoring him along the way). Russell, on the other hand, enters with averages of 7.0 points on 31.8 percent shooting over his last three games. He has struggled to find consistent playing time under coach Byron Scott and will look to snap out of his funk tonight.
A loss tonight would mark the Lakers' 11th straight defeat, which would set the franchise's losing streak record. During this 10-game losing streak, the Lakers have been held under 100 points nine times and are averaging 92.2 points on 40.8 percent shooting. A matchup against the Timberwolves could help cure these offensive woes as Minnesota allows the ninth most points per game in the league (103.4). The Timberwolves will look to snap their own losing streak tonight (four games) and achieve a series sweep of the Lakers. Veteran guard Kevin Martin, who scored 37 points on 14-for-27 shooting in the Timberwolves' overtime win in early December, is doubtful for tonight's game with a wrist injury. Zach LaVine has filled in nicely (22.3 points) over his last four games.
NBA.com staff reports