- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Here they come again.

For the second time this season, the Washington Wizards will face the Miami Heat for the second time in a row. Having lost the first three meetings, the Wizards would like very much to knock off the Heat in their final meeting of the regular season tonight at MCI Center.

“We’ve got to get at least one from these guys,” Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said. “I hate even thinking about getting swept.”

Although the Wizards are off to their best start since the 1974-75 season (12-7) despite Monday’s 106-83 loss to the Heat in Miami, Washington is just 1-6 against teams with winning records.

That is why a win against Miami could do wonder for the Wizards’ collective psyche. Miami (16-7) comes to town with a five-game winning streak. A Washington victory not only would give the Wizards a win over the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, it would snap a seven-game losing streak to Miami.

“We have to get a win,” point guard Gilbert Arenas said. “We can’t let them roll over us again.”

The Wizards have lost their three games to the Heat by an average of 15 points. Miami led by as many as 28 points in the second meeting between the teams before the Wizards rallied against subs to make the final score a more respectable 103-93.

The difference between the teams also was evident Monday after the Heat lost leading scorer Dwyane Wade and still won easily (Wade’s availability tonight will be a game-time decision).

Jamison said the Wizards knew they would not have an easier time when Wade left the game and missed the entire second half with a sprained left ankle. They still had to go up against Heat center Shaquille O’Neal.

“Not with the big fella out there, no way,” Jamison said.

But as the Wizards’ shots stopped falling, Miami’s huge offseason acquisition scored 40 points (the most by a Heat player since 2000), grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots. The league’s highest-scoring trio of Arenas, Jamison and Larry Hughes suddenly lost their shooting touch, combining to make just 15 of 57 shots from the field (26 percent). O’Neal’s 40 canceled out the 42 scored by the Wizards’ trio, and he was an efficient 15 of 23 from the floor.

“Even though we lost by 20, I don’t think we’re that far off,” Jamison said. “I just think in our situation, we just haven’t played a decent game yet. Against Miami we were playing catch-up. [But] we’ve still got a lot of confidence — we still think we can make a lot of noise. But we’ve got to get at least one from these guys.”

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