for this game

Wade, Heat hope to end struggles against Magic

Mar 29, 2009 - 8:20 PM By Matt Becker Stats Senior Writer

Orlando (54-18) at Miami (39-34), 7:30 p.m. EST

MIAMI (AP) -- Dwyane Wade has had some memorable performances against the Orlando Magic in his career. The only problem is it hasn't led to many wins for the Miami Heat.

The Heat hope to avoid a 12th loss in 13 meetings with the Magic as they look for Wade to have another high-scoring effort Monday night in Miami.

Wade leads the league in scoring (29.8) and has helped the Heat (39-34) win 24 more games than a year ago to emerge as one of the top contenders for league MVP.

He scored 27 points in Saturday's 102-95 win over Milwaukee to help Miami bounce back from back-to-back disappointing losses.

The Heat are in a tight race with Philadelphia for fifth place in the Eastern Conference - a critical spot because it would ensure not seeing Cleveland, Orlando or Boston until at least the second round of the playoffs. Miami, which still has a game left against the Celtics on April 10, is a combined 3-7 against those teams this season.

"These last 10 games are very, very important," said Udonis Haslem, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 100th career double-double Saturday.

The Heat have had significant trouble beating the Magic (54-18), although Wade has managed to score against them with ease.

In their last meeting on Feb. 22, Orlando defeated Miami 122-99, despite a career-high 50 points from Wade. It was the first time since March 14, 1995 - when Dana Barros had 50 for Philadelphia in a 136-107 defeat against Houston - that a player scored so many and his team lost by 20-plus points.

Wade has scored at least 32 points in seven of his last nine games versus the Magic. In six contests against Orlando since the start of the 2006-07 season, the five-time All-Star is averaging 37.2 points - his highest scoring average against any opponent in that span.

"My concern is when Dwyane goes into the Hall of Fame and they start putting off his top career games, it's going to be like 50 versus Orlando," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy joked after last month's meeting. "We're going to fill up the entire screen. So, I don't know what to tell you. When I coached Dwyane I really liked him, but I'm not so sure anymore. Our relationship is strained."

While Orlando has had little luck slowing down Wade, Van Gundy's team has still been able to dominate the series.

The Magic have won 11 of the last 12 meetings and the outcomes have rarely been close. The Heat beat Orlando 103-97 on Jan. 24 but the Magic have won the other five meetings since the start of last season by an average of 14.3 points.

Orlando is coming off Friday's 110-94 win over the Bucks, its fifth straight victory and 12th in 14 games to remain percentage points ahead of Boston for the second seed in the East.

"We're just trying to find that rhythm that you can stay in," Magic point guard Rafer Alston said. "It's all about finding that groove going into the playoffs."

Dwight Howard received some needed rest Friday after finishing with 24 points and 21 rebounds in Wednesday's important 84-82 win over the Celtics. The three-time All-Star had 18 points and eight rebounds in just 24 minutes against the Bucks.

Howard led the Magic with 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting and 17 rebounds versus the Heat last month and has recorded 11 straight double-doubles against them since the start of the 2006-07 season.

Monday's game will feature the jersey retirement of former Heat center Alonzo Mourning at halftime. The four-time All-Star spent 11 of his 15 seasons in Miami and will be the first former Heat player to have his number retired.