- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

MIAMI. — The sterile morgue on Biscayne Boulevard opened with a whisper last night, either because of all the beautiful people who tarry at the silicone bar or South Florida’s utter indifference to the Wizards.

Not even the exhausting gyrations of the Heat dancers could inspire the few souls sitting in the den at the start of Game 2.

Or even the appearance of David Stern, the NBA commissioner who has waved off the verbal foul of Jeff Van Gundy, the brother of Stan and the ankle weight in Alonzo Mourning’s previous basketball life.

The perky blonde announcer with HeaTV seemingly confirmed the indifference after hitting the streets in search of a sociological quest.

Her question to the natives was: D.C. stands for which two words?

Her findings were shown on the Jumbotron above the floor, which could double as an indictment of the Miami public school system.

“Washington, Dade County” was one of the answers, a creative one, no doubt.

The mood is lacking, more so after the Heat outlasted the Wizards 108-102 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Coach Eddie Jordan looked to inspire early, taking a technical foul with 7:18 left in the first quarter. His urging was received reasonably well, although the Wizards trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half before cutting the margin to 54-47 at intermission.

Gilbert Arenas attempted to emulate his coach, as he incurred a technical foul with 2:06 left in the second quarter. Or maybe Arenas was upset with a call moments earlier that had not gone his way.

Either way, he looked incredulous in the direction of the referee, as if to say, “What? What did I do?”

Antawn Jamison, playing on one leg, showed himself to be an effective one-legged player, as he will have to be the rest of the series if the Wizards are to challenge the Heat on some level.

The injury news of the Wizards worsened in the second quarter, when Etan Thomas left with an abdominal strain. His return to the series is doubtful. He missed the first 32 games of the regular season with an abdominal strain.

His loss was especially hurtful after he established an early rhythm, with six points in six minutes.

Here is where principles possibly collide in the face of a cold reality.

The Wizards are running out of healthy big bodies, which is not a good way to go against Shaquille O’Neal.

Kwame Brown remains on the team’s active playoff roster, a poison that has to rankle Jordan and Ernie Grunfeld, who dropped Brown from their lips the day after he was suspended.

The ghost of Brown is destined to be one of the lead topics of discussion today and tomorrow.

The Wizards again failed to receive an all-cylinders-clicking performance from the Big Three of Arenas, Jamison and Larry Hughes.

For whatever reason — it was not the defense of the Heat — Hughes struggled mightily with his jump shot.

Hughes missed his first 11 field goal attempts, including a high number of open looks. His first field goal came with 11:21 left and cut the Heat’s lead to 82-73.

The Wizards mounted a late surge to salvage their dignity.

The Wizards are down 2-0 to the Heat, just as they were down 2-0 to the Bulls, only the comparisons end there.

The Wizards have been force-fed the conventional wisdom that this is not their time and that they merely are negotiating the terms of their surrender to the Heat, in either four games or five.

Game 3 promises to be the most favorable to the upstarts of Fun Street, if only because Shaq and his teammates will use it as the get-acquainted session with the environs.

Jordan certainly is not ready to accept the notion of next season.

“I have not even thought about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to win a game in the second round of the playoffs.”

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