- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2018

An old villain came back to Capital One Arena and ruined the Washington Wizards‘ season opener on Thursday night.

Kelly Olynyk scored the game-winning basket with 0.2 seconds left for the Miami Heat as they beat the Wizards 113-112.

Down 111-110 in the final two minutes, Washington’s defense forced two shot-clock violations. The first one led to John Wall putting the Wizards ahead with free throws, and the second seemingly put the game away.

But with six seconds for Miami to run a final play, Olynyk rebounded a Dwyane Wade 22-footer and dropped in a game-winner, breaking Wizards‘ fans hearts after they booed him all night for the history he has with Washington.

Wall led the Wizards with 26 points and 10 assists. In his Wizards debut, Jeff Green scored 17 off the bench. Bradley Beal added 20 and Markieff Morris had 11. Guard Josh Richardson led Miami with 28.

The Wizards shot 46.9 percent from the floor, outpacing the Heat’s 39.2 percent. But Miami dominated on the boards 55-40, hit 12 3-pointers and drew 31 Washington fouls.

When OIynyk played for the Boston Celtics, he and Kelly Oubre Jr. traded hard charges in their contentious playoff series in 2017 and it ultimately got Oubre suspended. Now Wizards fans have one more thing to hold against the long-haired forward from Gonzaga.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks repeatedly said that 112 points is plenty of offense, especially in a home game, but he needed the defense and rebounding to be better, up to and including the Heat’s winning bucket.

“When we play small, and we did tonight with all the foul trouble we were in, we gotta man up and put bodies on bodies and rebound the basketball,” Brooks said. “The last play of the game, same thing. … John did an incredible job contesting one of the game’s great players in Wade, but we gave up the offensive rebound.”

Beal said the defense was the primary culprit for the loss.

“Throughout the game, we started off great with the energy and locked in. As the game went along, we kinda let that fade and they kinda were the aggressors,” he said.

Wall scored the Wizards‘ first five points of the season, first with a quick drive down the lane and then adding his first 3-point attempt. The Wizards jumped out to a 16-7 lead halfway through the first, but Derrick Jones Jr. helped Miami get back in it with seven points after the Heat’s first timeout. Miami scored six of the last eight points of the quarter to cut Washington’s lead to 25-24.

Ian Mahinmi, starting at center with Dwight Howard not healthy enough to make his team debut, had a steal and two blocked shots in the quarter.

The second period stayed tight, with neither team ever leading by more than four. After an extended run across the first and second quarters with the Wizards‘ second team — Tomas Satoransky, Austin Rivers, Green, Oubre and Jason Smith — Wall returned to the court and almost immediately hooked up with Smith for an alley-oop throwdown. The star point guard later electrified the arena with his own dunk.

Brooks was happy with his second unit throughout the night.

“We didn’t have a good flow just from all the foul troubles that we were in, but now we’ve got some good experience on the bench where we can throw guys in and they can move the scoreboard and get stops,” Brooks said. “We got Jeff Green and Austin and Tomas, and the experience that he got last year is gonna help our second unit.”

But Rodney McGruder fueled Miami with an 11-point quarter, including one 4-point play, and each side scored 34 points in the quarter to make it 59-58 Wizards at the half.

Miami started the second half with an 11-3 run to open up its biggest lead of the game, but the Wizards clawed back. Richardson looked primed for a dunk, but Wall blocked him, leading to a transition and ultimately a bucket for Green that cut Miami’s lead to 74-71. A few minutes later, Beal hit a 27-foot trey to put Washington ahead again.

By the middle of the third, Mahinmi, Smith and Morris all had four personal fouls and seats reserved on the Washington bench. It forced the Wizards to use their small-ball look, which at one point consisted of Wall, Rivers, Satoransky, Green and Oubre. While their ball movement was good, the rebounding lacked.

“They ended up beating us up on the boards, which if we’re gonna play small, which is something we want to do and preach about, we gotta rebound,” Beal said. “Plain and simple. All five, myself included.”

The Wizards took an 89-85 lead into the fourth quarter. Despite seating Beal in the first minute due to his fifth foul, the Wizards added to the margin with a Porter jumper and a Green 3-pointer.

But they couldn’t knock the Heat out. In the latter half of the quarter, 3-pointers from McGruder and Richardson pushed Miami ahead 106-104. But Beal responded with a baseline drive, lay-up and foul to pick up three points and re-gain the lead. They followed it up later with a Wall-to-Beal alley-oop to break a 108-108 tie.

A free throw and a Wade driving layup put Miami up 111-110, leading to the Wizards‘ sequence that nearly won them the game.

Brooks said that the poor small-ball rebounding will have to be “in the thought process” moving forward when the Wizards want to have a small look on the floor, something they wanted to do more in 2018-19.

Washington (0-1) will face the Toronto Raptors at Capital One on Saturday before embarking on a five-game road trip.


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