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Wizards hand defending champion Heat third straight loss
Question of the Day
Or if you thought LeBron James and Co. would follow a White House visit by dropping their third straight against the heart of the middling Eastern Conference.
Oden played his first game in more than four years Wednesday night, and that might have been the only positive for the Heat. He played all of 8 minutes, 24 seconds and made a pair of dunks to help start a rally that had loads of promise — until it fell flat in the fourth quarter of a 114-97 loss to the Wizards on Wednesday night.
“They came here, whatever. Went to the White House, whatever,” Wizards forward Nene said. “We just came here to play.”
John Wall scored 25 points, and Bradley Beal and Nene had 19 apiece to lead seven players in double figures for the Wizards, who had their lead cut to nine before closing with a 17-9 run. They had dropped seven of eight at the Verizon Center, having blown a fourth-quarter lead to the Houston Rockets on Saturday in a game twice delayed because water was leaking onto the court through a hole in the roof.
Chris Bosh scored 26 points, and James had 25 for the Heat, who had been off since Friday and therefore had time to be feted by President Barack Obama on Tuesday for winning a second consecutive NBA title. For one half, the Wizards made Miami look like a team that will never again be invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington went on a 20-0 run in the first quarter. James had three of the Heat’s six first-quarter turnovers. The Wizards, with their first sellout crowd of the season, taunted the Heat fans in attendance with the “Bandwagon Cam” that mocked those wearing the visitor’s colors. Washington didn’t even commit a foul until the 8:48 mark of the second quarter.
“They was playing at another speed,” James said. “They was playing at, like, 15 and we was playing at, like, seven.”
James paused, then corrected himself.
“Don’t even gonna give us that much of a credit,” he added. “We was playing at, like, five.”
James said he even lost his voice during the second or third quarter. He was still hoarse after the game.
“We love adversity more than anything. We’re definitely at that point,” he said with a smile as his voice cracked. “As you can tell, my damn voice is gone. I gotta try to find it, too.”
At least the Heat found Oden, who stepped onto the court for his first regular-season game since Dec. 5, 2009. He scored six points, going 2 for 3 from the field with a pair of dunks. He made both of his free throws and grabbed two rebounds.
It was Oden, of all people, who helped get the Heat going after the Wizards led 43-18 at the end of the first quarter and 64-30 during the second. Wearing No. 20 and with both knees heavily wrapped, he entered with 6:03 remaining in the first half and made an immediate impact: an offensive rebound, a dunk and a foul in 30 seconds.
By halftime, the score was 69-48. Oden also started the second half and played four minutes before sitting for the rest of the game.
“In a short amount of minutes tonight,” James said, “he was pretty good for us.”
It was Oden’s first appearance in a regular-season game since fracturing his left kneecap while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Rockets. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft also missed what would have been his rookie year because of a right knee injury. He has had three microfracture surgeries on his knees.
“So this is the plan and it’s got me this far,” he said. “It got me in the game.”
Norris Cole’s jumper pulled the Heat within single digits — 84-75 — with less than a minute to go in the third, but they never got any closer than nine. The Wizards had nine turnovers in the third quarter but only one in the fourth, and an alley-oop from Wall to Martell Webster put Washington up by 17 with 3:02 to play.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “That’s still the best team.”
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