The Miami Heat may have hope that they can still become a competitive team even though they own the Eastern Conference's worst record. All they need to do is look at the Golden State Warriors.
The Heat look to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season when they visit the surging Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Miami (4-14) fell to 0-3 on its six-game road trip and lost for the fourth straight time Thursday, 112-106 to Portland.
"You just have to stick with it," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "It may look like a nightmare now. We'll wake up one day from it. It doesn't get any easier from here."
The Heat, though, have not struggled against the Warriors (10-8) much. Miami has won 18 of 23 meetings since March 24, 1995, including seven of 11 in Golden State. The Heat won both matchups last season by an average of 17.5 points.
While the Heat hope Wade can continue to carry them past the Warriors - he has averaged 25.4 points in the past four meetings - his return from missing the first seven games following offseason knee and shoulder surgeries has not caused the Heat to shake off their early season struggles.
They lost their first five games as part of a 1-8 start, and are just 2-8 on the road.
"Dwyane is doing everything he can do," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "He's just trying to make plays. He's trying to run the offense. He's not trying to hit home runs."
If there is any team that can provide an example of how to turn a season around, it's the Warriors. Golden State lost its first six games, but has since won 10 of 12.
The Warriors are coming off their most lopsided victory of the season, 120-90 at home over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night as no starter played more than Stephen Jackson's 32 minutes. Jackson and Baron Davis each scored 20 points.
"We got some much-needed rest," Davis said. "I came into the game feeling a little sluggish. Anytime you get a night like this and you haven't play as many minutes, it's big."
The Warriors shot a season-best 52.3 percent from the field, including 15-of-22 (68.2 percent) on 3-pointers.
"It's good to have one of these games once in a while," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "We don't seem to have them anymore. Everybody got a chance to play. I think my bench needed that, so I can start gaining some confidence in them."
The Heat hope to regain confidence in Shaquille O'Neal, who finished with a career-low 17.3 scoring average in 2006-07 and is contributing 15.0 points per game this season. O'Neal has finished with fewer than 10 points four times this season, including twice in his last three outings.
O'Neal has averaged 26.4 points in 36 games against the Warriors, missing both last season.
"We know what we need to do," O'Neal said. "We just need to work on it. ... We know what the problems are. We just have to do it."
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