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Wizards struggle again with small-ball, barely beat Heat

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The Wizards once again let down in the second half of a game and eked out a 99-97 win against Miami Friday night. They struggled with the Heat's small-ball lineup but must quickly turn their attention to Milwaukee and a long, athletic Bucks squad.

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1. Wizards avoid colossal collapse, win 99-97 vs. Heat

I'll admit that I wasn't able to watch the entire game last night, but when I did stop watching, the Wizards had a 32 point lead.

Thirty-two points.

When I turned the game back on with just over a minute left, they were leading by one point.

ONE POINT.

I have nothing else to say. Just go ahead and read the saddest victory recaps you'll ever read.

Bullets Forever

The Washington Post

Comcast SportsNet

Wiz of Awes

WizardsXTRA

2. Examining the team's nearly-historic collapse

That was an incredible first half against Miami. It really was. The ball was whipping around, players were moving around the court better than I've seen in a long time. Then the collapse began. And the Wizards, much like their season as a whole, fell apart after a great start. And it was ugly. Like, historically ugly.

3. Wizards again struggle with small-ball

The Heat put out a small lineup late against the Wizards and, once again, they had no idea how to respond to the challenge. Go ahead and sound off in the comments section about whether it's Randy Wittman's fault or the players' fault for stopping the efficient play that gave them a 35-point lead in the first place.

4. Positives!

Even after a win with this team, you've got to push past all the negative weeds to find the positive stuff.

"You just take how you play in the first half," said point guard John Wall, who is battling a bruised left knee. "It’s the only thing you want to take, the first half. The second half was not us."

And, incredibly enough, due to the struggles of the other top teams in the East, the Wizards are still only 3.5 games out of second place in the Eastern Conference. Honestly, that eases my heavy heart quite a bit. But simply knowing that won't be enough to make Washington good enough to get into that second spot. They actually have to play inspiring basketball -- the way they did in the first half against Miami.

5. Wizards face Milwaukee Bucks tonight

The Bucks (32-39) have been one of the most impressive surprises of this 2014-15 season. The Bucks are breathing down the Wizards' neck in the standings, which is something to keep an eye on as Washington continues its struggles. New coach Jason Kidd has turned this team around and made them very competitive, despite losing rookie phenom Jabari Parker to a torn ACL earlier in the season. The Wizards (35-27) will face a long, athletic squad tonight but it won't be any easier than the small-ball lineups that trouble this team so much. This is a very big game.

Tip off is set for 8:30 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. You can watch live on Comcast SportsNet+ or listen on 99.1 WNEW.