"Can they beat the good teams?" Collins asked.
It's a fair question considering the Wizards' home pre-season loss to the New York Knicks a few days ago while also factoring in their record last year against "good teams" who either made the playoffs or were over .500.
Many NBA folks consider the Miami Heat to be "a good team" heading into this season despite missing the playoffs last year. One ESPN personality called them the "biggest threat to the Cavs" tonight.
With the way the Wizards played against the Heat in the beginning of the game, perhaps they considered the Heat to be a "good team" as well and saw tonight as the opportunity to make a pre-season statement to Collins and others.
Through their play, John Wall and company were attempting to say, "We can beat the good teams."
However, despite holding a 9-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Wizards fell to the Heat on Oct. 21, losing in South Beach by a score of 110-105.
To be blunt, the non-starters were not very good in the fourth quarter. To be more specific, the last 90 seconds of the game were horrendous.
Humphries leads off
The Wizards began the game with a 27-11 run that included 12 points from Kris Humphries. The final shot from behind the arc that Humphries made was well done. He in-bounded the ball to Wall, they jogged up the court with Humphries trailing and then he set a pick on Wall's demand. As Wall drove off that, Humphries rolled back behind the line. They had caught the defense napping and Wall threw a pass behind his head into Humphries mitts and he swished a bucket from outside (via Hoop District):
Wall's assist was just one of nine assists that the Wizards had in the first quarter. Most of the Wizards points in the opening set came via the fast break. Washington hit open shots and the Heat didn't. The Heat starters were just one-of-13 from the floor in the first quarter.
Humphries had just two points against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Against the Heat, he rebounded and proved that he will once again be a valuable piece in the Wizards' rotation. HumpTHREES finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and two steals.
Missing Bradley Beal
You could hardly notice the absence of Beal - who, according to Randy Wittman, was just resting - in the first quarter, but it was evident later on in the game. On NBA Countdown prior to the contest, Jalen Rose said that the NBA is becoming a league where having two ball handlers is necessary to run any offense efficiently.
But without Beal, the Wizards just had one. Luckily for them, that one was John Wall, who finished with 14 points, seven assists, and four rebounds, but he still could have used Beal by his side against the Heat on both ends of the floor.
Gortat vs. Whiteside
The Heat would surge to take a two-point lead with about 40 seconds left in the half behind the solid play of Hassan Whiteside and Mario Chalmers. Late in the second half, Marcin Gortat and Whiteside were engaged in a big man battle, both registering blocks on one another and fighting for rebounds.
Those battles sparked these tweets from our staff:
Marcin Gortat is opening up his opponent's eager eyes right now. He's Hassan Brightside.— Jake Whitacre (@jakewhitacre) October 22, 2015
Whiteside is annoying. I don't know why, but he's annoying.— Akbar Naqvi (@AkbarRazaNaqvi) October 22, 2015
Gortat and Whiteside each finished the half with three blocks each.
As the game drug on, while Whiteside had a handful of highlight plays, it seemed like Gortat was the only Wizards' big who could handle him. When Drew Gooden subbed in at center, Whiteside got everything he wanted in the post. Against Gortat, Whiteside was ineffective. The young Heat big finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks, while Gortat cleaned up for 18 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks.
Behind Gortat's strong play in the third quarter, the Wizards bounced back and led by 9 points at the end of the period. Then everything fell apart as many of the starters played little or not at all in the final quarter.
Wall to wall
It was a pre-season game, but you weren't about to tell that to John Wall on Wednesday night. There was a play late in the third quarter where, off of a Wizards turnover, Chalmers was racing to the basket for an open lay-up. Many players, realizing that it's pre-season, would have let the Heat guard get his two easy points.
But not John Wall. He jumped into Chalmers to contest the shot, causing a miss and committing a foul. As he hit Chalmers though, he landed on the hardwood harder than most Wizards' fans would have liked to see.
There was also this play:
It might be preseason but John Wall is hustling like it's midseason. pic.twitter.com/3Z5t1hfDpp— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 22, 2015
More quick thoughts:
- Jared Dudley was a bit disappointing. He played about 12 minutes, took just one shot and finished with a less than desirable stat line of three rebounds, one assist, five fouls and no points. Dudley was pretty useless in the final moments of the fourth quarter as well. It's pre-season, but Wizards fans are hoping they won't see this Jared Dudley ever again.
- The Wizards starters were pretty awesome. They all finished with point totals in double digits.
- The Wizards showed tonight that by playing a fast-paced offense and shooting a high number of three-pointers that, even if they fall behind, they can bounce back quickly. Unfortunately it wasn't enough in the end. The non-starters shot just three-of-12 from three-point land in this game.
- Dwyane Wade showed up when the Heat needed him the most, at the very end of the game. A veteran presence like his and his ability to play big at the end of games is invaluable. The Wizards had a veteran who could do that last year in Paul Pierce. As the season goes on, they will need to find who can replace what The Truth gave them.