- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

MIAMI Any conversation about the worst team in the NBA these days must now include the once-mighty Miami Heat.
The Heat still can't shoot, something they haven't been able to do ever since Pat Riley took over as coach, but now they don't do anything else well either. That's part of the reason the Wizards, Miami's perpetual whipping boys over the years, shut them down in the fourth quarter on the way to an 84-75 victory last night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Before the game, Wizards coach Doug Collins wondered aloud which Washington team would show up, the one that couldn't throw a ball in the ocean and shot 33 percent from the field in a loss at Cleveland, or the one that followed with a nice victory on the road at Philadelphia.
The Wizards were probably somewhere in between, but they were perhaps at their defensive best in the fourth quarter. That's when they held the Heat to 3-for-21 shooting from the field.
Michael Jordan led the Wizards with 22 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Jordan also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out five assists.
"It feels good," said Jordan, satisfied that the Wizards have won three of their last four games and did not let down against a bad team. "It was a good effort by everybody. [Richard Hamilton] played extremely well. Our small unit came in and gave us a lot of energy. Pat [Riley, Heat coach] went small. and Doug matched him."
Collins went with Jordan at power forward and he scored eight points in the fourth quarter. Collins had him on the floor with Hamilton, Tyronn Lue, Christian Laettner and Hubert Davis. Collins went with the lineup because the Heat chose to double-team Jordan and he wanted to be able to space the floor out against Miami to get open shots.
The Wizards' starting backcourt of Hamilton and Chris Whitney both had good games. Hamilton scored 19 points. and Whitney added 14. Forward Laettner scored nine points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Laettner also did a good job defensively on Miami center Alonzo Mourning, who struggled for most of the night and finished with just four points and eight rebounds.
LaPhonso Ellis led the Heat with 24 points. Eddie Jones added 13 points but scored just three in the second half. Point guard Anthony Carter had 11 points and five assists. Otherwise Miami was pathetic, scoring just 26 points in the second half.
Both Jordan and Collins indicated that Laettner's defense on Mourning was crucial. Held scoreless and without a rebound in the first half, Mourning finished with four points, eight rebounds and one blocked shot.
"Christian did a good job in making sure that Alonzo didn't get low post-up position," Jordan said. "So we didn't feel like we had to double-team. We were able to stay home with our guys, and when we had to double-team we rotated, I helped out on the boards, and the next thing you know we were able to get some shots."
The victory gave the Wizards their second two-game winning streak of the season and ended an 11-game losing streak to the Heat. It also extended the Heat's losing streak to 11 games, their longest since 1990.
The 6-9 Ellis was matched against Jordan for much of the first half, but surprisingly he had most of his success from long range. Not known as a great jump shooter, Ellis knocked down three of the Heat's four 3-pointers in the half.
Miami continued to play well early in the second half when it took its biggest lead of the game, 56-43 on a 7-0 run. But with Whitney picking up the scoring slack, Washington got right back in the game on an 11-0 run.
And after outscoring the Heat 23-17 with Jordan going scoreless in the quarter, the Wizards positioned themselves perfectly to win the game, tying the score 66-66 going into the fourth quarter.
The Wizards went ahead for good, 72-70, when Hamilton nailed a 14-foot jumper. The Heat didn't help themselves at all the rest of the way. After Carter hit a running finger roll with 9:28 left in the fourth, Miami did not score another field goal until Jones hit his one basket of the second half a 3-pointer with 1:12 left in the game.
"We were [leading] 56-43 in the third quarter because we made some shots at the beginning of the quarter," Riley said. "Then we got outscored 41-19. Our defense just caved. … You just can't keep guarding, and guarding, and guarding, and guarding and never get any sugar at the other end. It just deflates everything."

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