This one was a lost closer than it had any right to be, as the Washington Wizards made one of their patented fourth-quarter runs with the game well out of reach to cover up the fact that for 36 minutes they played the same brand of sloppy, dispiriting basketball that now has them staring at their third consecutive 0-3 start following a 103-93 loss Sunday to the Miami Heat.
Nursing a 23-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Heat coach Eric Spoelstra pulled LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and the Wizards capitalized with a 16-4 run featuring 11 points from Trevor Ariza to make the score 91-80. A running jumper from Eric Maynor pulled the Wizards within 10 before Miami re-seized control of the game. With a victory in hand, the Heat began coasting and the Wizards went on a little mini-run to make it 100-93 with 41 seconds to play, but Bradley Beal missed the free throw on a potential three-point play and the Wizards had to settle for a moral victory over the defending champs.
Except this team can no longer claim moral victories, not with their max-deal starting point guard writing "Playoffs" on his shoes before every game. John Wall didn't have the best game, finishing with 11 points, nine assists and five turnovers on 4-of-12 shooting. Beal led the Wizards with 19 points (6-for-14, 4-of-8 from three), while Marcin Gortat tallied a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Trevor Ariza tacked on 13 points on 16 shots. For the game, Washington tallied 20 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Heat shot 52 percent from the field. Hey, at least the Wizards outrebounded Miami 41-32...*retch*
If you're looking for some good news, Wall and Gortat showed a glimpse of what they could become on the pick-and-roll with a couple nice plays towards the end of the game, but that's all I got.
Washington started the game fast, going up 9-2 on the Heat, but followed it up with some shoddy rotations and poor transition defense that put the Heat up 18-13 midway through the first quarter. The Wizards actually shot well early, making half of their shots in the first quarter, but Miami started the game a scorching 12-of-14 from the field, thanks in part to three three-pointers from LeBron James that might have been considered bad shots for all but a handful of players in the league. The Heat cooled off towards the end of the quarter and missed some open jumpers (from Ray Allen and Shane Battier, no less), but they still ended up shooting 65 percent, so the Wizards were lucky to only be down six points at the start of the second quarter.
With an assist from some hapless Wizards defense, the Heat remained hot through the second quarter, looking calm and composed on offense as a defending champion should. Meanwhile, Washington looked tentative and sloppy on offense, settling for bad midrange jumpers and throwing the ball away with careless passes that led to easy transition buckets for Miami. A long three from Gortat beat the first half buzzer and pulled the Wizards within 13 heading into halftime, but even the 61-48 score wasn't indicative of how thoroughly they had been outplayed by the Heat.
Neither team started off the third quarter well, with both going scoreless for the first two minutes, and only four total points scored in the first four. The Heat really gave the Wizards a chance to get back into the game, but Washington resembled a middle-school rec league team, showcasing nothing that could pass for NBA offense other than a couple threes from Beal. The Wizards relied entirely on jumpers in the third quarter, abandoning all attempts to get the ball inside for easy baskets. Al Harrington was a prime offender, though to be fair, he may have simply been trying to inject some offense into a lineup without any. The gaffes actually began to reach comic levels towards the end the quarter as the Heat pushed their lead to 23 while the Wiz continued to jack threes, throw the ball away and leave Miami shooters wide open.
Here's some notes:
- I'm thinking Gortat might get a lot of open baseline jumpers playing with John Wall.
- One thing Gortat will have to learn playing on the East Coast: LeBron could closeline you with a lead pipe, and the refs will call a jump ball.
- Man, it's weird to see a Wizards big man sinking jumpers. #PolishHammer
- Seemingly every Wizards miss in the first quarter was followed by an easy transition bucket for Miami. No one was getting back on defense.
- Leave it to Ray Allen and Shane Battier to cool the Heat off from deep.
- LeBron headed to the locker room towards the end of the first quarter and started the second on the bench with an apparent heat pack wrapped around his back.
- Harrington with the alley-oop to Seraphin? Not sure how many more times we'll see that one.
- Eric Maynor with the oop to Beal might be something we see more often.
- It's an oop party in the second quarter with Chris Anderson getting in on the act.
- Beal passed up an open layup to pass to Ariza in the corner. Unselfishness is a good thing, but not there.
- I'm not sure Trevor Booker is the best long-term fit alongside Gortat, but other than a couple bad turnovers, he's played well offensively in the first half. He's the only member of the Forward Flotsam with more than one post move.
- How many times are Beal or Wall going to let Wade sneak behind them for an easy layup?
- Lulz @ Steve Buckhantz's "imagine that" reaction to Andray Blatche's fine for an obscene gesture from the Brooklyn bench.
- Trevor Ariza took out Harrington rebounding a missed free throw. This game in a nutshell.
- Holy crap did Seraphin make an accurate kick-out pass mid-fadeaway??
- GAH ANOTHER SERAPHIN KICK-OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING?????
- Taking (and making) a seven-foot jumper when no one is between you and the basket so is #SeraphinLife.
- Dare I say...Eric Maynor hasn't looked half bad. *ducks*
- The Wizards should win on that crazy shot by Martell Webster alone. No? Alright, I tried.
More from Bullets Forever:
- Wizards vs. Heat: Defense struggles again in 103-93 loss
- Wizards vs. Heat preview: Battle of two teams already beaten by the 76ers
- John Wall injury update: Wizards' PG will play vs. Heat
- John Wall injury: Wizards' G sat out practice with back spasms, questionable for Sunday
- Magical Pixels, Wizards vs. 76ers: Fast start finishes with an F-bomb