- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

For as electrifying as the Washington Wizards‘ play and the atmosphere at Verizon Center was in their upset victory against Cleveland on Thursday, everything about Saturday night was just as flat.

The Wizards again faced a team led by an MVP candidate - this time Miami’s Dwyane Wade. Unlike Thursday, the Wizards didn’t rise to the occasion, suffering a 118-104 defeat.

Gone was the sizzle created Thursday by franchise point guard Gilbert Arenas. He sat out Saturday’s game to rest his surgically repaired left knee. Missing in action was a scoring punch off the bench. Spark plug guard Nick Young sprained his knee in the first quarter, and usually reliable backup big man Darius Songaila had a quiet night.

Also missing was the defensive intensity that caused the Cavaliers fits. The Wizards allowed Miami to put six scorers in double figures and knock down 14 of 32 3-pointers. Wade scored a game-high 33 points, handed out five assists and went 15-for-17 from the foul line. Forward Yakhouba Diawara scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and Jermaine O’Neal added 16 points and six rebounds for Miami.

With the loss, the Wizards concluded play in the Southeast Division with an NBA-worst 1-15 division record.

“I said early that it didn’t seem like we had any energy; [it] seemed like we were running in sand,” Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said. “Against them: a good offensive team that will spread you out? You’ve got to move. Obviously, 42 points from [3-point range]? Way too much. Obviously we’re going to double Dwyane Wade some times and that’s going to leave a guy open, and he’s probably going to find them, but you’ve got to get to them.”

Caron Butler led the Wizards with 27 points and Antawn Jamison added 23. Brendan Haywood added 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Wizards got Javaris Crittenton back in uniform after he missed the last game with back spasms. With Arenas out, Crittenton made his sixth start of the season and recorded a career-high eight assists to go with nine points. Fellow guard Juan Dixon also returned to action after missing the past six games with a strained right Achilles tendon, played 19 minutes and again strained the tendon.

To start the game, the Wizards rode Haywood’s hot hand. Haywood, playing in his third game this season, scored his team’s first 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting and a pair of free throws. Unfortunately for the Wizards, stopping the Heat proved a difficult task as Miami jumped out to a 19-10 lead with five minutes left in the quarter.

The Wizards had a scare when Young left the game with a left knee sprain with 2:13 left in the first quarter. Young scrambled for a loose ball with Miami’s Jamaal Magloire and his right leg got intertwined with Magloire’s and his left leg got bent backward awkwardly. He had to be carried off the court by JaVale McGee and Oleksiy Pecherov, and then he hobbled to the locker room for examination. Five minutes later, word came from the locker room that the injury wasn’t as bad as it looked and that Young could jog a little.

The Wizards fell behind by as many as 18 points with 2:34 left in the second. The Wizards closed out the quarter on an 11-5 run and trailed 62-52 at halftime.

The Wizards went on two third-quarter runs but couldn’t overtake the Heat. Trailing 69-58 with 8:44 left in the quarter, they used a 10-1 burst to pull within 70-68 with 5:10 remaining. Miami pulled ahead by seven, then Washington mustered an 8-4 surge to trail 80-77 heading into the fourth.

Then the Heat poured in 38 fourth-quarter points to turn the game into a rout. Miami made a team-record eight 3-pointers in the quarter and shot 70 percent from the field.

“Anytime a team shoots the ball like that, you’ve just got to tip your hat to them,” Haywood said. “Diawara, Dwyane Wade making 3-pointers out of nowhere, James Jones - those guys are good 3-point shooters and just couldn’t miss tonight and that hurt us.”

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