- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2001

HEAT 86, WIZARDS 84

One day Courtney Alexander probably will hit this type of shot. And one day perhaps something of importance will be on the line.

Last night with the ball in his hands and the chance to send the Washington Wizards into overtime against the Miami Heat, Alexander, the brightest light in the deal that sent Juwan Howard to Dallas last month, launched a 14-foot jumper inside the paint over the outstretched arm of Miami's Dan Majerle.

The ball bounced high off the back of the rim, bounced on the top of the backboard and eventually came to rest out of bounds with 0.9 seconds left. With that, the Wizards' valiant come-from-behind effort fell short as Washington lost to the Heat for the 11th straight time 86-84 at MCI Center.

"That's the kind of shot that a young guy like him is going to learn from," teammate Popeye Jones said of Alexander's last-ditch effort. "It's good to be in a position like that."

Alexander and the Wizards found themselves in that position because of a furious fourth-quarter rally that closed what had been an 80-65 Miami lead with just 8:33 left in the game.

But the Wizards (18-56) held the Heat without a basket until Anthony Mason's layup with 2:38 left had the Wizards looking at a seven-point deficit.

Washington, led by Alexander's 25 points, closed within 86-84 on a hook shot from Jahidi White with 39.1 seconds left. On Miami's next possession, Majerle missed a jumper, which put the Wizards in position to win the game.

"We had been getting isolations for Courtney, and I think that we felt he could get a good look at the basket," Wizards coach Leonard Hamilton said. "He got a good look. The shot just didn't go in."

Said Alexander, who took an especially long time to dress following the loss: "It's a learning process for me. Obviously, I would have much rather have had that shot go in, not just for my benefit but for the team's benefit. I'm sure I'm going to miss more shots in my career."

An aggressive offensive player, Alexander said he relishes the chance to win games like this in the future.

"I think any basketball player loves to have the ball in his hands in the last couple of seconds," he added. "Unfortunately, it didn't fall for me."

That was the case for the Wizards most of the night. They shot just 39 percent from the field (31-for-79). Meanwhile, Miami, one of the worst shooting teams in the league, shot 50 percent (38-for-76).

Alonzo Mourning, playing his fourth game after sitting out the first 69 with a kidney ailment, posted season highs in points (16), rebounds (eight) and blocked shots for the Heat (44-30). Brian Grant, who started at center, added 16 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Heat outrebound the Wizards 32-28. Tim Hardaway got hot in the third quarter when he scored 10 points and finished with 15 points and nine assists.

"I felt OK," said Mourning, a former Georgetown star. "It's not really a huge concern. I just go out there and play the game. I'm just concerned about our play in general."

The Wizards got 16 points from Richard Hamilton although he struggled from the field, making just five of 21 shots.

The Wizards shot just well enough in the second quarter to nudge their percentage up to 38 percent by halftime. However, the Heat shot a blistering 65 percent (13-for-20) in the second quarter and led at the half 45-43.

Miami began to open some distance near the end of the third quarter. With the score tied 56-56, the Heat specifically Hardaway started to find the range.

Hardaway squeezed the trigger on back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Heat a 65-58 lead Miami's biggest of the game to that point with 1:55 left in the quarter. This was the beginning of 24-9 Miami run that gave it an 80-64 lead with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter.

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