I'm going to need to mellow out after that one. So many highs, so much dread, and finally, jubilation. The Wizards rushed wayyyyy ahead of the two-time defending champion Heat, nearly blew the lead, then held on to win it, 114-97. Finally, a win against a good team.
It all started with a stunning run to begin the game, one that I'm still not quite able to process. At the first TV timeout, the Wizards led, 18-12, with one of those hot, but uneven starts they always have against Miami before reality sets in. This time, though, the opposite happened. The Wizards got more easy shots, the Heat missed, and the Wizards ran down their throats. Eventually, they couldn't miss. When it was all said and done, the Wizards led by 34 points. Thirty-four points. It happened so fast that I'm not sure whether it happened more because of the Wizards' strong play or the Heat's ineptitude. Not that it matters anyway.
OF course, as soon as the great run happened, the fear that Miami would ultimately rally set in. It started to happen in the second quarter once Greg Oden (!) checked in, but things really started to set in midway through the third.
(Don't let your child read this paragraph)
After a Nene jumper put the Wizards back up by 29, the Heat embarked on a 26-6 run to cut the lead down to nine by the end of the third quarter. Terrible things happened. Marcin Gortat threw the ball to Norris Cole. John Wall zoned out and stopped running the offense. Wall threw the ball to LeBron at the end of the quarter instead of getting the Wizards a final shot. Chris Bosh hit a couple threes. LeBron dunked as Gortat recoiled in fear. Brick killed a guy. Things reeeallly got out of hand. Suddenly, it was down to nine.
But thankfully, the Wizards made enough plays in the fourth to hold the Heat back. Miami's effort never waned, but the Wizards came up with big, tough shots. Bradley Beal got into the paint instead of always settling and hit a couple difficult shots, including a tricky leaner to push the lead back to double digits. Trevor Booker played his butt off. Garrett Temple even came in and hit a tough jumper. Nene filled gaps, as he is wont to do. Even the Wizards' constant switching on defense worked well enough. (Don't do it again, though).
And finally, the Heat had nothing left. Booker switched onto LeBron and wore him out, using his thick frame to get physical with him. Wall, back in after sitting down with eight minutes left following a rough stint, got aggressive again. We finally were able to breathe easy when Booker set a backscreen for Webster to free up a lob from Wall, giving the Wizards a 17-point lead.
Miami is struggling now, no question, but this is still a big win. The Wizards knew they needed to make quick decisions and get the ball moving against the Heat's defense, and that's exactly what they did. Their defensive effort soon followed, and transition play after that. Not everyone will defend like the Heat, but quick decisions and constant movement is a plan that'll work against anyone.
- How about Trevor Booker! Great performance on the glass, staying active when needed and not becoming a self-check offensively. He's perfectly suited to guard LeBron should we see the Heat again later in the season too. Any concerns that his game would falter off the bench should come to pass.
- Liked what I saw from Garrett Temple. The Wizards' bench has been much better since he took over for Eric Maynor, because at least Temple defends and gets the teams into their sets. Maybe the Wizards don't need a backup point?
- The eight-man rotation thing is working for now, but it's a little dangerous. At some point, everyone else needs to be reintegrated just to keep the top eight guys fresh. It almost cost the Wizards tonight.
- This GIF party better be epic.
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