Dwyane Wade has been guilty of taking a littlie while before getting his offense going in each game thus far, but that wasn't the case last night. Wade didn't take long to get off his first shot, sinking an 18-foot jumper just 66 seconds into the game. His quick start would continue; only 3:03 into the game Wade already had 7 points.
Washington came out cold and sloppy. They turned the ball over 5 times in the first 6:14 of the game and made only one field goal in their first ten offensive possessions. It's never easy when you start a home game by scoring only 6 points in the first 8 minutes of the game.
The Heat finished the 1st quarter shooting 68% and held the Wiz to only 29%. The 31-17 lead looked great, but then slowly the momentum began to shift. Washington would finally start hitting some shots and suddenly were on a 17-2 run that brought them within 1 point, but pretty much all of that was done with Dwyane Wade on the bench.
D-Wade would then hit back-to-back three-pointers and suddenly the lead was back up to 7. The pace would considerably slow down as the Heat were trying to stifle the Wizards sudden offensive surge. Miami closed out the half on a 13-5 run and stretched the lead back to 9. Wade finished the half with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
With the teams trading baskets in the 3rd quarter, the play was getting very physical. Fabricio Oberto was banging around with Michael Beasley, which led to players yapping at each other and the refs. Meanwhile, the Heat lead had suddenly vanished and they found themselves down by 1 half way through the quarter.
The entire time the Wizards we're coming back, Wade was not doing any damage offensively. He wasn't even touching the ball, which needed to change immediately. Almost seven minutes into the 3rd and the Heat had only 6 points. That's when Wade finally got back on the scoreboard, driving past DeShawn Stevenson and putting the Heat back up by 1.
At this point the game became a back and fourth battle. Wade finally began attacking the rim and started racking up the free throws, hitting four straight to put the Heat up by 3. While Dwyane was carrying the Heat, the same could be said for Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards, who was getting to the line just as easily as Wade.
With the 3rd quarter winding down, I couldn't help but think to myself that it was quite apparent that both of these teams had played the night before. Sloppy play and turnovers were all over the place. D-Wade saved the Heat from trailing after 3 when he hit a line drive J to tie it up heading into the 4th quarter.
Watching the two teams continue the seesaw battle in the final quarter, all I could think was ‘why isn't Wade touching the ball on every offensive possession?'. With 7 minutes left and the game tied at 77, it was obvious that Wade was not going to come out of the game the entire second half. And sure, at this point of the game he already had 33 points, but the final six minutes of the 4th quarter has been ‘Wade time' in the past and he was going to need to step up once again if the Heat wanted to get out of D.C. with their 4th win of the year.
With time winding down it felt like karma was on the side of the Heat after Wade was called for goaltending on a most obvious block. Right after the bad call, Quentin Richardson hit another ridiculous three-pointer as the shot clock expired. Then after a Brendan Haywood airball, Wade hit a runner to put Miami up 3. The Heat could've gone up by 5 but Jermaine O'Neal couldn't finish a great set-up by Wade, then O'Neal was called for fouling Gilbert Arenas at the other end.
Mario Chalmers can really be night and day out there. He looked very unsure of himself with the ball down the stretch, and had a big turnover with just under 2 minutes left. He then let Arenas drive right past him to put the Wiz up by 2 with 90 seconds left. The game would get tied up by Jermaine O'Neal, who hit a huge jumper (only his 2nd of the game) off of a great pass from D-Wade.
With 44 seconds left DeShawn Stevenson missed two free throws and the Heat were back in the drivers seat. Wade wasn't about to let this opportunity slip by, and he drilled a jumper from just inside the 3-point line over the sticky D of Stevenson, and the Heat were back up by 2. Of course the ball would be in Gilbert Arenas' hand for the Wizards, but he lost the ball going to the rim.
After leading at one point by 19 points, the Heat were able to convert down the stretch and get out of Washington with a hard earned victory. It was Dwyane Wade's first BIG game of the season, as he finished with 40 points on 14-of-26 shooting, including 10-of-13 free throws and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also had 4 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and 2 blocks. Seriously, we are so freaking lucky to have him on our team. Guys this good don't come along very often so I hope you all are appreciating what we get to see on a gamely basis.
- How much are you guys loving Quentin Richardson? He started the year by showing us how well he can play D, but is now adding the offensive game we knew he had. Last night he came 1 rebound shy of his first double double in a Heat uniform, finishing with 19 points and 9 boards. He also went 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
- Michael Beasley had a quiet game, and it looked to me like he was a step behind. Maybe he was tired from the back-to-back games. He still finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds, but that isn't a good night for Beas.
- If Jermaine O'Neal is going to struggle the way he has the past 2 games, Miami will be in trouble. They rely too heavily on their perimeter game without having a presence in the post. This is why the Heat need Michael Beasley to develop a ‘back to the rim' game, and quick.
- It was a very tough night for our point guards, as Gilbert Arenas abused both Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo. Chalmers was made to look silly several times as Arenas drove by him rather easily, and that seemed to affect Rio offensively. He did hit a big 3 in the fourth quarter but overall his shots didn't look pretty. Carlos Arroyo had a much tougher night, playing only 10 minutes because of constantly being in foul trouble.
- I have gained a ton of respect for Mike Miller after watching him play through what looked like a very painful left shoulder injury. He finally came out of the game after hitting a sick ‘and 1' that left him on the floor and in serious pain, but not before sinking the free throw to complete the 3-point play.
- This game got very physical after the Heat took their big lead. With the teams playing another two times in the next few weeks, I wonder if a rivalry is forming. The Wizards will eventually get back Antawn Jamison, which will make it that much more difficult to beat them.
- I know I keep saying this, but where the hell was James Jones last night? In a game where Miami couldn't get much going on offense for large portions of the game, you'd think that the creative play and strong shooting of Jones would be at a premium. There has got to be some reason that Spoelstra won't work him back into the rotation, but as of now there haven't been any answers.
Now prepare yourselves...next game is against NBA leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and his Denver Nuggets, Friday night at the AAA. This should be a GREAT game, and yet another measuring stick to see how real our Heat team is.