MIAMI — In the midst of a dismal season, there aren’t too many things the Washington Wizards can hang their hats on. But one of them was that they’d beaten the Miami Heat three straight times. That streak came to an end on Saturday night at American Airlines Arena.
Like an older brother who’s been letting his younger brother win, mostly because he isn’t taking the competition seriously, the Heat haven’t played their best against the Wizards. But after Washington got what they called a “statement win” over Miami on Dec. 4, the defending champions made a statement of their own on Saturday.
The Wizards never had a chance. The Heat ran them off the court in a 30-point blowout loss, 102-72, improving their record to 15-6, good for second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Knicks. The Wizards fell to a league-worst 3-18.
“We had no organization,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “We just got outplayed, out-coached, out effort-ed, everything. We didn’t have any direction on the floor. I didn’t know what we were running half the time.”
The Wizards were once again playing short-handed, with Nene sitting the game out with a sore left foot, joining the rest of the Wizards walking wounded – John Wall, Trevor Booker, Trevor Ariza and A.J. Price. Wittman didn’t have time to worry about rotations – he had little choice but to play every healthy body he had available, including the seldom used Earl Barron and Jan Vesely.
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, after losing 102-96 to the Lakers on Friday at Verizon Center, the Wizards were already at a disadvantage, with the Heat having last played on Wednesday.
It showed from the opening tip. The Wizards tied a season-low 36 points at halftime and a season-low 10 points in the third quarter, when LeBron James outscored them by himself, with 12 points.
“He [James] can play, but we only scored 10 points,” said Chris Singleton, who had seven points and six rebounds. “A lot of people are going to outscore us when we only score 10 points in the third.”
Their 72-point total was also a season low, the previous low being the 76 points they scored against the Charlotte Bobcats and Indiana Pacers. Only two Wizards players scored in double figures, Bradley Beal (19) and Cartier Martin (18).
“We let the pressure [get to us] and when things went down we just gave into that tonight,” Wittman said. “Because of that we got our tails kicked.”
The Heat were led by James (23), Udonis Haslem (13) and Dwyane Wade (13).
Washington finished the game shooting just 37.5 from the floor to the Heat’s 50.5. The Wizards also had 21 turnovers to just 12 for the Heat. Only the Heat’s dismal effort from the three-point line (8 for 27) kept the game from being an even bigger blowout than it was.
“We didn’t shoot the ball worth [crap]” Wittman said. “We turned into putty.”
The grueling schedule continues for the Wizards as they have another set of four games in five nights next week, beginning with the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at Verizon Center and the Magic in Orlando on Wednesday. For some of the players, the schedule is no excuse for a lackluster effort.
“We’re professional basketball players,” Singleton said. “No matter what, we should be ready to play. I know we might be tired, but it’s the little things. People have been saying we had their number. I bet they were listening to the media. I kind of knew they were going to come at us from the start.”