The NBA’s most unintentionally comical yet lovable losers seemed ready to keel over and die after a Chris Bosh dunk pushed an early third quarter lead to 12. A quick Wizard timeout sparked a 13-2 run behind John Wall’s six points and assist. They had the momentum. They had the attitude. The Heat fans were trembling (probably not). A very boisterous and drunk Heat fan wearing a signed LeBron St. Vincent jersey, who had just screamed “SCOREBOARD!!!” in the face of an unsuspecting Wizards fan not five minutes ago, was now slumped over in his chair, sullen but probably just intoxicated and tired/confused. Then Jordan Crawford happened.
Jordan Crawford had the best game of his career against the Heat in March of last year. He exploded for 39 points on 50% shooting and even hit five of eight from deep. Jordan seems to really get up for playing LeBron. Some may recall Jordan’s infamous dunk on LBJ at one of LeBron’s basketball camps that was almost swept under the rug by Nike. I was excited to see if Crawford could do it again, even though I knew that he was probably incapable.
After Trevor Booker hit the final shot of the aforementioned 13-2 run to cut the Heat lead to only one, he controlled an errant three from Mario Chalmers and dished the ball to Crawford. This is where Jordan’s irrational desire to stick it to all things LeBron came into play. My notes read: “4:11, JCraw momentum killer.” He drove in slow motion from the right and threw up an interesting layup that naturally missed. No ball movement. No passing. No need, Jordan presumably thought.
The Heat would outscore the Wizards 44 to 28 from that point on. The game was never too far out of hand until LeBron re-entered midway through the fourth quarter, but the fans in the stands knew all along. Our chance was during that late third quarter run.
The rest of the game was relatively ho-hum but let’s focus on the positives:
- JaVale McGee was engaged and active. He made the occasional dumb play, but this game seemed like one of his better on the season. He even got his hook shot to fall a few times. Pierre led the team in scoring, mostly due to some beautiful feeds for dunks.
- Trevor Booker shined tonight, showing off his interesting offensive repertoire. I’ve now seen him hit a floater in the lane enough times to embrace it. It’s hard to embrace a floater form a 6’8 power forward. He set a career high in rebounds with 15, which was good to see although the Heat are a mediocre rebounding squad.
- Despite no Great Wall of Assists (a wall in the Verizon Center where John Wall’s assists are posted like strikeouts at a baseball game), Wall posted his 4th double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 assists and almost kept his five game streak of 50% or better shooting alive, going 6-13 on the night (and it could have been 9 or 10 for 13, with slightly softer touch on a few layups).
- I’ve finally seen Jan Vesely catch the ball at the elbow and do something other than turn his back to the basket and look for Wall or Young to hand it off to. It was nice to see him make an aggressive move to the hoop, even if it looked clunky and proved ineffective. His size and athleticism alone was enough to draw the foul on that drive and I’d like to see him be the aggressor more often, especially when he’s the bigger guy, which is common.
The environment was toxic for the Wiz. Fans tried to boo LeBron and Wade every time they touched the ball but were drowned out by the school-girl-like affection coming from the mouths of opposing fans. Ultimately, the overwhelming fan support for the visiting Heat probably didn’t matter, as strong performances from Wade and Bosh along with 48.5% shooting were enough to overheat the Wizards. The Heat will play in the Verizon Center once more this year on the last day of the season. It will be Miami’s 35th home game. Sadly, it will be their second in DC.