The San Antonio Spurs blew out the Miami Heat by 20 points in the teams last meeting nearly three months ago, and Miami is just now starting to show signs of a possible turnaround to its season.

Despite his team's recent struggles, Dwyane Wade still believes that the Heat (24-26) won't suffer a similar fate against the Spurs when the teams meet on Sunday in Miami.

The Heat are two games under .500, but they have played better of late and entered Friday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on a season-high five-game winning streak. Miami couldn't get competitive, however, scoring only 33 first-half points in a 103-79 defeat.

Wade had 27 points and seven assists, while center Shaquille O'Neal - playing just his 11th game this season - added 14 points and seven rebounds.

"It was a sluggish game for us," Wade said. "I don't know why. All of us were a little sluggish and Cleveland took advantage of it."

O'Neal missed the first game against the Spurs (33-17) - a 106-86 loss on Nov. 22 - while recovering from knee surgery. Wade was held to just 18 points in that game, and the Heat couldn't recover from a 19-point halftime deficit.

"We're a different team," Wade said of the difference between Miami then and now. "We're going to play better."

The Heat will have to win both of their remaining games to reach .500 before the All-Star break. Miami hasn't begun the second half of the season with a losing record since the 2003-04 season, when it was 22-32.

"We're two games under .500 and we've got a very important game coming up Sunday against San Antonio at home," Wade said. "We want to go and play well."

O'Neal's addition to the lineup Sunday should provide Miami the boost it lacked during its November meeting with San Antonio. The center is averaging 25.1 points in 35 games against the Spurs. He has played just three games against them the last two seasons, but averaged 24.3 points in those games.

The Heat also face a San Antonio team currently in its toughest stretch of the season. The Spurs are 2-3 during their eight-game "Rodeo" road trip, and trying to bounce back from Friday's 106-104 loss to the Orlando Magic. The Spurs shot 50.6 percent from the field but squandered an 11-point halftime lead.

San Antonio still led by six with 1:54 left to play, but Orlando tied the game with 5.9 seconds left. Magic forward Dwight Howard blocked Parker's potential go-ahead shot with 0.8 seconds left, and after a timeout, completed an alley-oop inbounds pass from Hedo Turkoglu by dunking over Tim Duncan for the game-winning basket.

"Dwight had to go up and touch clouds over Timmy and get it one-handed and put it in," Spurs guard Brent Barry said. "It was a remarkable play."

The Spurs have shot a combined 52.2 percent from the field the last two games after shooting just 38.2 percent in the previous three.

They have won nine of the last 10 meetings against the Heat, with their only loss coming in Miami on Feb. 13, 2005.


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