Already an MVP candidate, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has been playing some of his best basketball since the All-Star break. Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks has been nearly as hot.
Neither player, however, has been able to keep his team from struggling.
In a matchup pitting two of the NBA's highest scorers since the All-Star break, Wade and the Heat look to avoid their fourth loss in six games Saturday night when they host Robinson and the Knicks, losers of three of four.
Wade, the league's leading scorer with 28.7 points per game, is also first since the break with 32.8, while Robinson ranks fourth with 27.2. That individual success, however, hasn't translated to the Heat (30-27) and Knicks (24-34).
Miami has dropped three of five, including a 91-83 defeat at Atlanta on Friday night. Wade had 21 points and 10 assists while going 9-for-17 from the field in a key matchup with a division rival competing with the Heat for the fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The rest of Miami's starting lineup combined for 24 points and 10-for-31 shooting.
"It took us a long while to get into the tempo of the game and really make an effort on both ends," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We weren't playing at the right pace, cutting hard on offense, setting screens, the details, things we were working on the last couple of days."
New York won its first two games after the All-Star break thanks in large part to Robinson's play before dropping three of its last four.
Robinson was held to his lowest point total of the season's second half with 14 on Friday night, and the Knicks fell 108-103 at home against Philadelphia.
While Robinson had a subpar performance, fellow reserve guard Larry Hughes thrived.
Hughes, who combined to shoot 4-for-22 in his first three games with New York after coming over from Chicago at the trade deadline, scored 25 points and went 9-for-16 from the floor. He started the second half and promptly made 3 of 4 3-point attempts to help the Knicks get back into the game after falling behind by 22 early.
Though the rally fell short, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni liked what he saw from Hughes.
"We're just really happy for him," D'Antoni said. "You always try to find a bright spot, and that's definitely a bright spot. We can work on this. We can get a lot better."
Robinson and Hughes hope they can help the Knicks continue their recent success against the Heat. New York has won six of the teams' last seven meetings, including four straight. It hasn't had a longer winning streak against Miami since a seven-game run from Jan. 22, 1995-Jan. 29, 1996. This is the first matchup between the Knicks and Heat since New York's 120-115 victory at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 29. Wade had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in that game, while Robinson had 13 points and seven assists.