The last time the Washington Wizards visited the Miami Heat, they hung with their Southeast Division rivals for the first 2 1/2 quarters before All-Star guard Dwyane Wade took over in the third quarter. The Wizards returned to AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday and again were denied their first division victory as another third-quarter eruption - this time a collective effort - paved the way for a 93-71 defeat.
The loss dropped the Wizards, whose 71 points established a season low, to 0-10 against Southeast opponents.
After the Wizards (9-36) took a 50-49 lead with 6:22 left in the third quarter, the Heat went on a 21-6 run to take a 70-56 advantage into the fourth.
"It's the same story for us," Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said. "We do a pretty good job, then we go through one stretch. Usually, it's the last couple minutes of the fourth quarter, but tonight it was like a three- or four-minute stretch that they took the wind out of us. [The deficit] went from two to 10, and the rest was history."
Wade sparked the surge with a coast-to-coast layup with 5:41 left in the third. Point guard Mario Chalmers and backup guard Daequan Cook followed with two 3-pointers apiece to add to Miami's lead.
Then with 48 seconds left in the third, Wade intercepted a pass from Javaris Crittenton and flipped it to Michael Beasley at midcourt. Beasley tossed the ball back to a streaking Wade, but the pass was a little high, so Wade had to leap to catch it. Then while falling out of bounds and still airborne, Wade lobbed the ball toward the basket, where Cook caught it and threw down a two-handed jam that put Miami up 68-55.
The Heat forced a turnover on the Wizards' next possession. Wade waited beneath the basket for the outlet pass and dunked the ball at the buzzer. Miami (25-19) protected its lead by outscoring Washington 23-15 in the fourth.
For the game, Cook and Beasley paced the Heat with 16 points, and Wade narrowly missed a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Five other Miami players scored in double digits.
Meanwhile, the Wizards, who shot 37 percent from the field, had just three double-digit scorers. Antawn Jamison led the way with 21, Caron Butler had 18 and Darius Songaila finished with 10. Washington committed 18 turnovers that led to 26 Miami points.
With guards Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson and centers Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas and Andray Blatche all injured, the Wizards were down to only 10 healthy players and only one true center on the roster: rookie JaVale McGee. But interim coach Ed Tapscott elected to give the 6-foot-9 Songaila the start, citing the sixth-year veteran's reliability.
The Wizards attacked the basket and the glass early, taking a 23-18 lead after 12 minutes. In the first quarter, Washington outrebounded the Heat 13-9, didn't allow them to grab a single offensive rebound and scored 14 points in the paint.
But the solid play subsided in the second. After the Wizards extended their lead to 27-20 two minutes into the quarter, Miami went on an 11-4 run to tie the score at 31-31 with a little more than five minutes left in the half. Washington went back up by six points but missed four of its last five shot attempts in the quarter. Miami closed out the quarter on a 10-2 spurt to take a 41-39 lead.
"We talked about that at the half, about playing with discipline and within our design," Tapscott said. "That's critical for us, particularly with so many young guys. Random Basketball hurts us. We held that for a while, then got scattered, got random. They exploited us, then started knocking down 3-pointers. ... We were trading 3s for twos and not getting many twos, and we never got [the deficit] down"