Postgame review – Miami 103, Washington 93, Game 3 of 82
After a lackluster second half in a Friday night home loss to Philadelphia, the Wizards went to Miami for a Sunday evening tip-off against the defending champions. Miami lost both games in the recent two-game road trip to Philadelphia and Brooklyn. The Wizards were once again on the losing side this time by a score of 103-93.
The casual NBA fan would see this game on the schedule and expect the Heat to win in a runaway. That casual fan might have channel-surfed to the game at the end of the third quarter, and would have given up on the rest of the game. However, the Wizards didn’t. Their finish does bode well for rest of the season.
Washington shot 42.7% for the game, and added 41 rebounds, 22 assists on 35 baskets, 8 steals, 20 turnovers and 2 blocked shots. Bradley Beal led 5 Wizards in double figures with 19 points, and seemed to shoot with more confidence. Marcin Gortat added 15 (including a three-pointer at the end of the first half) and 11 rebounds as he battled Miami’s front line. John Wall added 11 points and 9 assists (though he shot 4/12 FG/A). Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza added 13 points and 7 rebounds each.
Miami shot 52.9% from the floor, and added 32 rebounds, 32 assists on 37 baskets, 9 steals, 16 turnovers and 6 blocked shots. The Heat were led by LeBron James 25 points and 5 assists (but 6 turnovers). Chris Bosh added 24 points and 7 rebounds, while Dwayne Wade added 20 points. The first three quarters showed the defending champions’ precision and unselfishness. Many possessions consisted of whip-around passing, faster than Wizards’ defenders could rotate, until a Heat player got an open look at the basket. Miami’s passing game was fun to watch for basketball purists.
The Wizards jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, but the Heat continued to play to their strengths. Their passing game consistently generated open shots. Defensively, they were able to pressure the ball in the half-court, neutralizing Washington’s pick-and-roll attempts while also rotating fast enough to cover Washington’s weak side wings as they tried to get to the
basket. The first quarter ended with Miami leading 33-27.
Even with James starting the second quarter getting treatment on his back, the Heat started to pull away. Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen kept the pressure on the Washington reserves with their ball movement and hustle. When Gortat hit a three from just beyond the top of the key at the halftime buzzer, the score was Heat 61, Wizards 48.
Both teams started the second half cold, but Washington couldn’t take advantage of Miami’s errant shooting. Eventually, Miami got back in sync, outscoring the Wizards 26-16 in the third quarter. Again, Miami’s ball movement in the passing game resulted in open jumpers in half-court sets or layups/dunks in transition.
Just when it appeared the fourth quarter would be a mere formality, Trevor Ariza scored 11 of his 13 points to make things interesting. Beal’s layup got the team within 7 (100-93, Miami), but the team couldn’t quite catch up. Gortat added 6 points in the period, as Washington won the quarter 29-16. Bosh scored 8 for Miami in the quarter to help Miami hold off the upstart Wizards.
For optimistic Wizard fans, the fourth quarter has to show how well the team can compete against the best the Association has to offer. This game should show players and coaches alike a level of consistent production that’s worth emulating. When the best player in the world (James) makes the extra pass over and over, that attitude builds trust among his teammates. Washington tried similar, but couldn’t quite execute to the same level as the Heat.
Next up for the Wizards is a Wednesday night appointment at Philadelphia. The Wizards are still looking for their first win of the season, and will need to prepare for Philly’s energy level.
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