The Miami Heat used a tremendous surge to jump back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference but are finding it more difficult to hang onto one of the top eight spots. The Heat will try to solidify their position when they continue a five-game homestand by hosting the slumping Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Miami was 11-30 before a stretch of 21 wins in 25 games brought it back into playoff contention, but losses in two of the last four prevented the team from gaining any separation. The Heat sit tied for the No. 8 spot with the Detroit Pistons, one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls and a half-game behind the Milwaukee Bucks after a 115-104 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. Phoenix lost its last four games and is leaving veterans like Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight on the sidelines while the younger players try to prove they can be building blocks. The Suns kicked off a six-game East Coast trip with a 112-95 loss at Detroit on Sunday.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), FSN Sun (Miami)

ABOUT THE SUNS (22-48): Phoenix is shortening its rotation due to injuries and the desire to give its young players as many minutes as possible over the final month of the season, and fatigue seemed to get to some of the players on Sunday. The Suns took a lead into the half but were outscored 65-46 after the break, including 35-20 in the decisive fourth quarter. "I think we got a little exhausted during the game but at the same time it's no excuse," rookie point guard Tyler Ulis told reporters. "You've got to try and finish out that game no matter what the circumstances are. They didn’t care that we had eight players, it's just something you've got to deal with throughout the season."

ABOUT THE HEAT (34-36): Miami needs to take advantage of teams like the Suns because its last 11 games include six against teams currently in the top four of the East, including a stretch of four games to close the season at Toronto, at Washington, home against Cleveland and home against Washington. Heat point guard Goran Dragic is trying to find some consistency since returning from a one-game absence due to a bruised eye. Dragic scored 33 points in a win over New Orleans in his return on Wednesday and delivered a double-double in a win over Minnesota on Friday but was outplayed by Portland point guard Damian Lillard and went 6-of-22 from the floor in Sunday's setback.


1. Suns PF Alan Williams recorded a double-double in eight of 10 games this month.

2. Heat SG Dion Waiters (ankle) sat out Sunday's game and is doubtful for Tuesday.

3. Phoenix earned a 99-90 home win over Miami on Jan. 3 as SG Devin Booker led the way with 27 points.

PREDICTION: Heat 116, Suns 103