Missing seven players to covid protocols isn’t really an excuse considering the other team had an equal amount of players out or injured. With each team missing a significant portion of its roster, the Miami Heat (22-13) dropped the Washington Wizards (17-17), 119-112.
Kyle Kuzma (22 points, seven rebounds) led the way for the Wizards from the get-go, scoring his team’s first bucket with an emphatic dunk. On the other side, Duncan Robinson (26 points on 8-for-16 shooting from three) knocked down a pair of threes for the Heat early on.
Neither Wes Unseld Jr. nor Erik Spoelstra dipped into their benches until 5:35 of the first. With the insertion of Davis Bertans (19 points, 5-for-10 from behind the arc) for Washington and Tyler Herro (game-high 32 points off the bench) for Miami, the three balls started falling. Inside the arc, Jimmy Butler worked his magic to get to the line four times in the first. His four points from the stripe contributed to a 12-point first quarter.
Despite 13 lead changes in the first, the South Beachers went into the break up, 38-24, courtesy of an 18-3 run in the latter stages of the period.
Spencer Dinwiddie, who led the Wizards with 24 points and 11 assists, ended a four-and-a-half-minute Wizards field-goal drought with a tough and-one at 10:09 of the second. However, by that point, the Wizards found themselves down 11.
After Gabe Vincent drained a top-of-the-key deep shot, Unseld called for a stoppage with his team down 16. Three minutes into the second, Miami held a 58% shooting rate from downtown.
It took 15 minutes before the Heat committed a turnover; Butler threw an errant cross-court pass that flew into the first row. Other than a couple Butler turnovers, Miami did little wrong and took a 14-point advantage into the half.
Back-to-back threes from Robinson midway through the third stretched Maimi’s lead to 21, which prompted a Washington stoppage to regroup against their division foes. But even after the timeout, the Heat kept scoring. The home team used a 17-2 run to extend its lead, but a late barrage of threes from Washington gave the visitors some hope heading into the final frame.
The Wizards used a 25-11 run over the course of seven minutes in the fourth to get within eight of the Heat, but four points from Butler, who finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, a career-high 15 assists and two steals, in the final two minutes of the game sent Washington home with loss number 17.
With a majority of the team in covid protocols, the Wizards can be proud of the fight they showed against an equally decimated Miami squad. If it isn’t already clear, a Wes Unseld-coached team will always show up and work hard.
A couple things to note from tonight’s game. Daniel Gafford was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field; Craig Sword scored his first points for the Wizards this season; and several G-League/recently-signed players, Sword, Alize Johnson, Jordan Goodwin and Isaiah Todd saw the court.