- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 17, 2002

The days when the Miami Heat ran up and down the East Coast smacking around the Washington Wizards appear to be over.
The Wizards put together perhaps one of their best games of the season last night and routed Pat Riley's Heat 95-65 at a sold-out (20,173) MCI Center.
The Wizards administered exactly the type of whipping expected by a team with a very real chance of earning a postseason berth. When one of the dregs of the league and that's where the Heat are without Alonzo Mourning visits your building, you display no mercy.
With the lead hovering around 30 points early in the fourth quarter, coach Doug Collins was able to get extensive playing time for his younger players and rest for his regulars.
"I wanted to jump on them," said Collins, whose team's 6-4 start is its best after 10 games since the 1975-76 season. "I didn't want to give them any life. I said, 'Let's get them down early because they traveled after a tough game last night, so let's not give them any hope."
All hope was indeed gone early for the Heat (1-7). They were so horrid, they didn't muster their second field goal of the game until the 4:50 mark of the first quarter and trailed by 27 points at halftime. Their 65 points were the lowest in history against the franchise.
It was such a laugher that Collins was even able to answer the now almost nightly MCI chant of "We want Juan" as in Dixon.
The former Maryland star entered the game with just more than a minute to play in the first half and drew a standing ovation. And when Collins put the slender guard back in with just more than 10 minutes to play, everyone in the arena knew that Dixon, who led the Terrapins to the national championship in April, would be on the court for some time.
"It was good to get out there and get some time," said Dixon, who played 11 minutes and finished with four points. "But it's even better to know that we are starting to come together and play better basketball."
Said Collins of his troops: "I think they are starting to trust each other more."
Washington's victory was its fifth in its last six games, a nice comeback from a 1-3 start. Perhaps more importantly, the victory could be a sign of where the Wizards are headed this season.
Collins, concerned following Washington's hard-fought victory over Utah on Thursday a game in which the Jazz battled back from 21 points down before bowing 105-102 believed his team might suffer a letdown against weak Miami. No problem.
The Heat are hardly the same team that, not long ago, dominated the Atlantic Division and made regular appearances in the playoffs. Where he once had Mourning, Tim Hardaway and P.J. Brown, Riley now has to give big minutes to players like Malik Allen, Rasul Butler and Anthony Carter. Miami looks as if it has more in common these days with the Memphis Grizzlies and some of the other rebuilding teams that dot the league.
Michael Jordan, who logged a season-low 19 minutes just two days after playing a season-high 34. made it clear the Wizards must maintain their level of play, especially today in Philadelphia.
"You have to wait until the games are closer and they really matter," Jordan said. "This game was pretty much decided early on, and everybody gets a little more free in those circumstances. The young guys gave us a good effort tonight. Let's see how they bounce back tomorrow."
Kwame Brown, who has had recent trouble with consistency, once again looked solid with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jerry Stackhouse led the Wizards with 16 points and 10 assists. Larry Hughes finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Wizards 52.2 percent field goal percentage (35-for-67) was second only to the 52.4 percent in their 114-69 mauling of Boston on Oct.31.
Washington played about as well as it could in the first half. The 32 points Miami scored were the fewest any team has scored against Washington this season. The Wizards compounded Miami's troubles by shooting almost 57 percent from the field on the way to scoring 59 points the most they have scored in a half this season.
The Wizards' fast start set the stage for some exciting basketball the likes of which the team hopes will be a regular occurrence.
On one sequence late in the second quarter with Washington leading by 18, Stackhouse rewarded rookie forward Jared Jeffries (seven points) for running the break with a behind-the-back pass that Jeffries slammed home.
Moments later Jeffries, out front on the break, fed Brown with a no-look pass that Brown powered home on a two-handed dunk.


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