Despite multiple efforts to pull away with a lead, the Washington Wizards simply didn’t have enough firepower against LeBron James and the Miami Heat tonight and eventually went on to fall, 99-90.
After losing three straight games, the Heat were looking to stop their losing skid and it seemed like they were determined to do so tonight. Dwyane Wade doesn’t usually play on the second night of back-to-backs, but he suited up tonight, and his presence was much needed. Wade went on to score 22-points and knocked down some clutch shots in the fourth quarter that helped secure the victory for Miami.
LeBron James has been on a bit of a slump lately, often settling for perimeter shots, but that certainly wasn’t the case tonight against Washington. James knocked down all three of his three point attempts in the first quarter, but he didn’t fall in love with his jump shot, as he picked up his aggressiveness and forced his way to the basket. James finished the game with 23-points, 7-rebounds and 8-assists, displaying why he’s still the best player in the world. There aren’t too many players in the NBA that could will their way to the basket like James and the Wizards stood no chance at defending him tonight.
Perhaps the best performance of the night came from the forgotten member of Miami’s “Big Three”, Chris Bosh. Bosh, like many of his teammates, was automatic tonight. He made 10 of his 14 field goal attempts, including 2 of his 3 three point tries. Bosh has probably been Miami’s second most important player this season, but he hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. The impact he makes offensively is certainly understated, but his defense has probably been the most unheralded portion of his game.
The Heat did a great job of closing out driving lanes and it took John Wall completely off his game. Wall finished the game with 7-points and 8-assists, but his 7-turnovers never really allowed him to get into any kind of rhythm. Miami obviously scouted Wall very well and didn’t allow him to make the simple passes that he usually makes to get his teammates involved.
Wall’s backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, scored 18-points tonight and had a rather up-and-down game for the most part. Like Wall, the Heat did a great job of defending Beal, forcing him to make tough passes off the dribble which is an area he still has to work on. Beal’s shot selection could’ve been better, but that could be credited to Miami’s defense.
Besides Marcin Gortat, who finished the game with 14-points and a career-high 18-rebounds, Washington’s starters really struggled tonight. Gortat couldn’t get it going offensively early on, making just 1 of his first 7 shot attempts, but he did grab 10 boards in the first quarter. Washington grabbed 17 more rebounds than the Heat, mostly due to Gortat’s effort on the glass.
Trevor Ariza was bound to have a bad game sooner rather than later and it unfortunately happened against the Heat tonight. Ariza made just 2 of his 11 shot attempts and only converted on 1 of his 7 three point opportunities. Ariza has been on fire lately and he would inevitably have a bad game. He had some open looks, but he just couldn’t knock them down.
Even though Washington didn’t get much from their starting unit, their bench really stepped up tonight. Drew Gooden has been on a tear lately, and it continued tonight against the Heat. Gooden scored 15 points on 7-12 shooting from the field in just 17 minutes of action. I’m really surprised at how fast he’s picked things up and he doesn’t seem to have missed a beat since sitting out the majority of this season. I’d be shocked if the Wizards didn’t sign him for the rest of the season, especially if he keeps producing on the offensive side of the floor.
Washington also got some scoring help from Martell Webster, who scored 17 points on 5-9 shooting. He’s also starting to get in a groove lately, and it hasn’t hurt that he’s played along side Andre Miller, who’s done a terrific job of setting up his teammates. Miller dished out 5 assists tonight and also mixed it up on the boards, adding 5 rebounds to his total.
It’s nearly impossible to win when the defending champions are hitting half of their shots from the field, and simply put, the better team won tonight. I credit Washington’s effort and there’s not much more you could ask for tonight. On to the next one, I guess.
The Wizards will be back home on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.