- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2012

Dwyane Wade dribbled up the court and seeing himself surrounded by defenders, took the only logical course of action — he made a 360-spin move, elevated above everyone else on the court and dunked the ball.

It was just one of several spectacular moves, which included a couple of Wade alley-oop passes that resulted in LeBron James slam dunks. It was a study in contrast for two teams  — the Heat and Wizards — heading in opposite directions.

The Heat are considered a favorite to win a championship this season and have a world of expectations on their shoulders — particularly the shoulders of the Big Three: Wade, James and Chris Bosh.

Meanwhile, the Wizards are a team filled with developing young players, and every game is looked at as a teaching moment. Wins are a bonus.

The Heat toyed with the Wizards throughout much of Friday night’s game at Verizon Center, essentially allowing Washington to keep it close through three quarters. Then, apparently tired of playing cat and mouse, the Heat shifted into another gear in the fourth quarter and pulled away, winning the game 106-89. Miami improved to 20-7, while the Wizards fell to 5-22.

But at the very least, the Wizards might have learned something valuable in the loss.

“We can learn something from how they played and how they talked out there,” Nick Young said. “We fought hard tonight, but they’re a great team with great players. They pulled it off. It’s something we can learn, just how they tried to take over at the end of the game, just how LeBron and D Wade was always talking and they was always making sure their teammates was in the right positions.”

Wade led all scorers with 26, while Chris Bosh added 24 and James scored 18. The Heat shot 49.4 percent from the floor and connected on 21 of 23 from the foul line.

For the Wizards, it was JaVale McGee who led the way with 24 points, followed by Young with 22 and John Wall with 15. But Washington managed to shoot just 38.2 percent from the floor and had a disastrous night at the line, making just 17 of 28.

“I can’t fault our guys’ effort,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “When you’re playing team like Miami, it’s hard to beat a team [when you shoot] 38 percent, and on top of that, we missed 11 free throws.

“Did we have breakdowns? Yeah. I’ve talked the last couple weeks since I’ve been here; we’ll take mistakes that are aggressive. We’ve had some guys get tired I thought, a little winded, which caused some of our mistakes, too. I’ve got to do a better job of getting those guys in and out.”

At the end of the game, Wade and James took a moment to talk to Wall before the two teams left the court. It was a moment Wall seemed to appreciate.

“Just stay strong, keep competing,” Wall said was the message from the two All-Stars. “Times are rough right now but just keep working as a player, make sure you’re getting better and make sure you keep leading these guys.”

Wall, who also matched a season-high with 10 assists, met James in high school and described him as someone he’s always looked up to. Having James and Wade both take the time to talk to him was something Wall called “very nice.”

“Those two guys probably have been through the same situation,” Wall said. “It’s one superstar who won a championship and another who’s trying to get one. It’s something I want to be down the road. You take stuff from this game that helps you get better.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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