Game Report 37: Wizards 114 Heat 97
THE GAME TURNED WHEN… Are you kidding? It was the first quarter. Maybe the best first quarter the Wizards have ever played. Washington jumped out to a huge early lead, thanks to a 20-0 run. The Wiz scored 43 points in the first quarter and leading by 25 before the second began. Bradley Beal led the way with 10 points and two 3-pointers in the opening period.
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN… The Heat cut the Wiz lead to 9 points — 97-88 — with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. That’s when the Wiz made their final run to secure the win. Beal scored near the basket to get the lead back up to 11 before John Wall made 4 straight free throws and then tossed a perfect alley-oop pass to Martell Webster for the jam and the 17-point lead. LeBron James made a free throw and James Jones hit back-to-back 3-pointers, but John Wall hit a 19-foot jumper and then drained a fadeaway 25-foot 3-pointer to with less than a minute remaining to put the Wiz up 112-95.
THE GOOD… Washington shot a season-high 55% from the field tonight. They also shot 45% on 3-pointers and hit 22-26 free throws.
The Wizards had seven players in double figures tonight — which is pretty good considering the team went with an 8-man rotation tonight.
Wizards bench outscored Heat bench 29-20 and beat them 14-10 on the boards.
The Wiz out-rebounded the Heat 41-35.
The Wiz had 30 assists on 41 made shots, compared to only 22 assists for the Heat.
THE BAD… Well, the Wizards held a 34-point lead at one point and it fell all the way to 9 points a couple of times in the second half. That’s 25 points lost, which isn’t good. Of course, one expects a pro team to stage a run and not lose by 34 points — particularly if that pro team is the two-time NBA champions — but losing 25 points is not good.
The Wiz did a great job on shooting 3-pointers and getting points in the paint in the first half. In the second half, not so much.
THE UGLY… Apart from losing 25 points off that 34-point lead, I can’t think of anything.
THE STAR… John Wall struggled at times tonight, particularly in the third quarter, but unlike many previous nights, he didn’t let it get him down. Wall came back and torched the Heat in the final quarter to secure the Wizards win. Wall finished with 25 points, 14 of them in the fourth quarter. He hit 7-14 shots, 3-6 behind the arc and all 8 of his free throws. He also handed out 9 assists.
THE STUDS… Trevor Booker may have lost his starting job, but he hasn’t let it hurt his game. Book was 5-5 from the field last night for 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds off the bench. Booker also proved to be just about the only guy who could switch off his man and play LeBron James. Booker has the size and strength to play with James, but also the speed.
Nene scored 19 points and piled up 9 assists, enabling the offense like a second point guard when he was in the game. The offense just looks much smoother and cleaner when Nene is in the game — as if everyone knows what to do, but only when Nene is on the floor.
THE DUDS… Nobody. The Wizards needed everyone who played tonight to play well and they did.
THE BENCHWARMERS… Jan Vesely and Eric Maynor did not get off the bench, but Chris Singleton, Otto Porter and Kevin Seraphin only played a minute each — the final minute. Coach Randy Wittman went with an 8-man rotation tonight.
THE QUOTEs… “They was playing at another speed. “They was playing at, like, 15 and we was playing at, like, seven. Don’t even gonna give us that much of a credit. We was playing at, like, five.” — LeBron James
“They came here, whatever. Went to the White House, whatever. We just came here to play.” — Nene Hilario
AND WHAT IT ALL MEANS… The win ends 4-game Wiz losing streak to the Heat and ends Miami’s 22-game win streak over division opponents, one short of an NBA record. The Wizards have struggled against better teams this year, compiling a record of 1-14 against clubs with a winning record, so tonight’s win against arguably the best team in the NBA — the two-time defending champs — was so important. The Wiz now know they are at least theoretically capable of beating good teams.