The Wizards were outscored 62-46 in the paint as Washington fell to Miami 115-109 on Friday night.
The Heat made it clear early on that they were going to have their way around the rim. Hassan Whiteside scored six points in the first four minutes as Miami jumped out to a quick 15-4 lead and got Thomas Bryant into early foul trouble.
Washington finally found their footing in the second quarter with Otto Porter Jr. leading the team’s second unit while he plays on a minutes restriction. Although he couldn’t find the touch on his outside shots, he was able to get into the teeth of Miami’s defense and went 7-of-9 inside the arc in just 21 minutes of action.
After the Wizards pulled even early in the second quarter, it was an evenly contested game for the rest of the half and most of the third quarter. Miami finally broke free with a 15-6 run to close the quarter and take a nine-point lead into the fourth.
Washington didn’t let the Heat go on another run the rest of the night, but they just couldn’t cobble enough stops together to make a serious run of their own. They were able to get within a point with 1:07 left in the game after Bradley Beal hit a pull-up 3-pointer to get up to 33 points on the night, but that’s as close as they would get. Justise Winslow responded with a layup on the other end, Jeff Green missed a three to tie it up, and then an ill-timed foul by Porter on Bam Adebayo shut the door for good.
All in all, the Wizards put together a solid game. If Porter could have played more than 21 minutes, or if Trevor Ariza could have shot the ball better inside the arc (where he was just 1-of-7) perhaps this game goes differently, but there just isn’t enough margin for error when the team is so shorthanded.
Bradley Beal turns in another underappreciated gem
Beal didn’t have the most efficient night, but his final stat line (33 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in 40 minutes) was exceptional and doesn’t do justice to the level of difficulty in this one. Erik Spoelstra has crafted another great defense this year that has kept guards in check all season. Going into the game, only three guards (Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, and James Harden) had reached the 30-point mark against the Heat this season.
The Heat were able to guard Beal more aggressively than normal because the Wizards were shorthanded, but he didn’t let the extra attention get to him. He had to take tougher shots, but he was up to the challenge and played about as well as you could hope given the circumstances.
Washington still has no answer for Hassan Whiteside
If you thought the Wizards’ struggles in recent years with Hassan Whiteside were because of their old crop of big men, this game proved he’s still a problem for Washington’s new group. He overpowered Thomas Bryant (when he wasn’t in foul trouble), he was too quick for Ian Mahinmi, and he was way too big for Jeff Green. He finished with 21 points on 13 shots, 18 rebounds, and 2 blocks in under 30 minutes of action.
The only thing that kept him from doing more damage was Washington’s ultra-small lineups that forced the Heat to play smaller in response. The Wizards may need to do more of the same to combat Steven Adams, Joel Embiid, and Andre Drummond in the coming weeks.
Get Jeff Green in the dunk contest
32-year-olds should not be able to jump this high.
MY GOODNESS, @UNCLEJEFFGREEN#WizHeat | #DCFamily pic.twitter.com/Vm36K0qGf5— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 5, 2019
Next up: The Wizards take on the Oklahoma City Thunder this Sunday at 7 pm Eastern Time.