MIAMI | While injured, Antawn Jamison watched helplessly as his Washington Wizards teammates blew key opportunities in losses to the Miami Heat in their first two dates with their Southeast Division foes. He wasn’t about to let it happen again.
The Wizards had blown a double-digit third-quarter lead, and the hosts needed only a 3-pointer to tie the score as the fourth quarter opened Friday night. But there was a scowling Jamison at midcourt, clapping, barking - anything he could think of to motivate his teammates. The Wizards responded with a charge and won 94-84 for their first victory against Dwyane Wade and Co. this season.
“I said early in the year that that was something we missed,” coach Flip Saunders said of Jamison, who missed the first nine games of the season with a partially dislocated shoulder. “Some of these games might have been a different story, not only with his leadership but also his ability to make tough shots. He’s emotional, and he’s going to be there when you need him.”
Jamison certainly was, scoring a game-high 24 points while also pulling down 13 rebounds. Also giving the Wizards a boost was Nick Young, who was making his second straight start. He had 22 points and five assists while frustrating Wade on the defensive end.
In his first two meetings with Washington this season, Wade torched the Wizards for 81 total points. But this time the taller Young kept him from getting comfortable looks, and the second-year scoring guard also wore the five-time All-Star down by making him work on defense. Wade finished with 18 points on 6-for-19 shooting. Unlike his first two games against the Wizards, in which he got to the free throw line 13 times apiece, Wade took only seven free throws.
After the Wizards entered the fourth nursing a 67-64 advantage, Jamison began lighting a fire under his teammates. Jermaine O’Neal opened the quarter with a field goal for Miami, but Earl Boykins - who had 10 points and nine assists and played the entire fourth quarter in Arenas’ stead - scored on a jumper a few minutes later. Caron Butler - returning after missing Tuesday’s game with an ankle injury - added another as Washington’s lead increased to 78-68, capping an 11-2 run.
The Wizards (5-9) never looked back.
“It was one of those things. The previous two times we played them, we did a pretty good job for three quarters. And we all know what Dwyane Wade likes to do in the fourth quarters, but we needed to play with a lot of energy and just gut it out,” Jamison said. “We’re here on the road, and they went on a run before the quarter was over with, so I was just letting guys know we’re going to fight and play hard and win this game.”
Washington fell 93-89 at Verizon Center in its first meeting with Miami this season. In the rematch in Miami six days later, Washington led for three quarters before collapsing in a 90-76 loss.
Turnovers were an issue in both games. Three miscues in the final two minutes of the first game and 22 (including a career-worst 12 from Arenas) in the second ultimately proved Washington’s undoing.
But this time the Wizards turned the ball over only 12 times and outrebounded Miami 48-36. The Wizards also pounded the Heat 26-8 in second-chance scoring. By beating the Heat, the Wizards earned their first two-game winning streak since Feb. 17-20.
And although he had little impact in the second half, Arenas got his first victory against Wade after failing in his first 19 attempts. Arenas knew his record against his friend and offseason training partner wasn’t good, but he wasn’t sure just how rough it was.
“What is this now, 1-for-11 for me?” he said with a smile before being told it was actually 1-for-20. “For real? That was me, 0-19? Shhh! Well, [stuff] never went our way.”
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