There aren't many teams playing better than the Miami Heat. In fact, there's only one.
Miami won its fourth in a row Tuesday night behind 32 points from rookie Dwyane Wade, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 97-79. It's the first four-game winning streak in nearly two years for the Heat, whose victory string is the league's second-longest behind San Antonio's seven.
``Four wins is not enough, hopefully we can take it to five,'' said Lamar Odom, who scored 19 points and grabbed all 12 of his rebounds on the defensive end.
The turnaround by the Heat has been surprising for a team that lost coach Pat Riley on the eve of the season and proceeded to drop its first seven games. Miami, which also defeated Phoenix, Memphis and Toronto during its winning streak, goes for five in a row Wednesday night at Philadelphia.
Elsewhere, Memphis topped Sacramento 105-100, Denver downed New Orleans 116-94, Phoenix edged Seattle 92-91 in overtime, Milwaukee beat Portland 106-99, Minnesota defeated Houston 92-75, Washington downed Utah 91-87, Golden State topped New York 104-86 and Chicago beat Orlando 102-88.
Wade shot 15-for-22 with nine assists, while Odom had his fourth straight double-double. Eddie Jones added 22 points.
Odom's 3-pointer with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter put the Heat ahead 65-55. The Hawks never got their deficit into single digits the rest of the way.
``The most remarkable thing about the game is that we won it in the third quarter,'' Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``We are a team that struggles to score and when a game goes well for you offensively, you tend to play poor defense. When we stepped up our defensive intensity in the third quarter, the game turned in our favor.''
Atlanta, led by Shareef Abdur-Rahim's 16 points, has lost four in a row and eight of nine.
Miami never trailed after Butler's layup late in the first quarter made it 21-19. Wade scored 19 points in the first half.
``I am getting more confident and my teammates are getting more confident in me,'' Wade said. ``The floor is opening up more because so many guys are playing well.''
Grizzlies 105, Kings 100
At Memphis, Pau Gasol scored 22 points and Shane Battier keyed a fourth-quarter rally with 11 points.
Six Memphis players scored in double figures as the Grizzlies snapped Sacramento's four-game winning streak and beat the Kings for the first time since November, 2001.
The teams were tied at 83 with just under eight minutes left before Memphis went on a 7-1 run for a 90-84 lead with 5:15 remaining. Sacramento got within 94-93 on a drive by Brad Miller with 3:15 remaining, but never any closer.
Nuggets 116, Hornets 94
At Denver, Carmelo Anthony had 21 points and Voshon Lenard added 19, improving the Nuggets' home record to 10-2.
Nene had his sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Marcus Camby had 14 points and 12 rebounds for his third straight double-double.
Baron Davis had 25 points on 9-for-18 shooting as New Orleans matched its longest losing streak of the season _ two games.
Suns 92, SuperSonics 91, OT
At Phoenix, Shawn Marion dunked off an inbounds pass from Penny Hardaway with 5.6 seconds to go to cap a low-scoring overtime _ just five points combined.
Marion had 19 points and 14 rebounds, helping the Suns snap a six-game losing streak to win for the first time in four games under coach Mike D'Antoni.
Bucks 106, Trail Blazers 99
At Portland, Tim Thomas had 23 points and six assists and Michael Redd added 22 points for the Bucks, who shot 58.2 percent. Milwaukee took over with an 11-0 run that made it 74-63.
Timberwolves 92, Rockets 75
At Minneapolis, Sam Cassell scored 25 points and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Latrell Sprewell added 14 points for the Timberwolves, who've won three straight and improved to 6-1 in December.
Wizards 91, Jazz 87
At Washington, Larry Hughes scored 20 of his season-high 38 points in the fourth quarter, and Etan Thomas blocked a potential game-tying layup by Andrei Kirilenko. The victory broke the Wizards' four-game losing streak.
Warriors 104, Knicks 86
At New York, Jason Richardson scored 26 points in a lopsided game that left Knicks fans booing. The Warriors snapped a two-game losing streak by running all over the Knicks, scoring 23 fast-break points and never being threatened in the second half.
Bulls 102, Magic 88
At Chicago, Kendall Gill scored 27 of his season-high 29 points in the second half when he made 12 of 13 shots. The Bulls have won two straight for the first time this season.