Somehow...Miami comes back in final minute to beat Wizards

LeBron James of the Miami Heat celebrates with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh after a 95-94 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on December 18 2010 in Washington DC.

The Heat got off to another slow start last night in DC, which seems to be a trend this season.  Their defense took a few minutes off during the 1st quarter, and then their offense went cold.  It ended up resulting in Miami scoring just 19 points and trailing by 6 after the opening 12 minutes.  With this team though, you know that eventually the offense will get going so worrying at this point would be a little premature.   

The troubling part of the 1st quarter was that the Heat committed 6 turnovers which led to 12 Washington points, something that Miami is usually very good about not doing.  They cleaned things up a little bit in the following quarter but not before letting the Wizards lead get up to 9.  The Heat defense was playing very lackadaisical, giving up easy layups and open shots which is very uncharacteristic of how they usually play.

As you would expect, Miami began to turn things around late in the quarter, first clamping down on defense and then slowly getting their offense going.  They took a brief lead but went into the half trailing by one point.  It definitely looked like there was some kind of hangover effect lingering over the Heat because they did not look as sharp as they normally do. 

Usually the Heat owns the 3rd quarter, but last night that just wasn't the case.  Their defense was just not there and the Wizards were absolutely taking advantage.  I can't remember the last time I saw so many open lanes for the opposition to drive the ball.  Miami just looked genuinely tired and you have to assume that playing a tough game in New York the night before had to have something to do with that.

After the Heat once again came back, this time tying the game at 70 in the final minute of the 3rd quarter, things began to go south.  The Wizards went on an 8-0 run that would act as their cushion for a while, mainly because Miami just couldn't score.  Half-way through the 4th quarter the Heat had scored just 2 points. 

Right up until the end, this one just felt like it wasn't meant to be for Miami.  Even when Josh Howard missed a crucial free throw in the final minute, he got his own rebound and went right back to the line.  He ended up making 2-of-4 but it still got the Wizards up by 4 with 18 seconds left. 

It was all about the free throws at the end.  Chris Bosh was fouled taking a three, but only made two of the foul shots.  James Jones then stole the inbound pass with the Heat down by 2, got fouled and made both free throws.  Kirk Hinrich then found himself at the foul line with 12 seconds left and the game tied but only made one of two.  Then finally it was Dwyane Wade taking shots from the charity stripe and he made both, putting the Heat up for good. 

For those not keeping track, the Heat made 6-of-7 from the foul line in the final 20 seconds while Washington made just 3-of-6.  Miami absolutely did not deserve to win this game but somehow they were the beneficiaries of the Wizards giving it away in the final seconds.  Bad turnovers and missed free throws plagued the Heat all night but in the end it was those things that cost Washington the game. 

GAME NOTES

  • The Heat turned the ball over 17 times which led to 20 Washington points.
  • Joel Anthony finished with 4 blocked shots while D-Wade and Big Z had 2 apiece.
  • Miami hit 12-of-15 from the charity stripe in the 4th quarter.
  • Chris Bosh finished with 20 points and 9 boards but committed a game-high 7 turnovers. 
  • Leading all scorers was LeBron James with 32 points on 9-of-19 shooting.  He also made 11-of-12 from the foul line. 
  • Mario Chalmers hit another 2 shots from downtown and is now shooting 43% from 3-point range in the month of December.  He's got at least 2 triples in 6 of his last 7 games. 

I'm still in shock that the Heat won this game.  I know there is that old expression that good teams find ways to win games like this...but this is still a very improbable win.  Right now I'm just hoping that they get their stuff together before Monday night's game against Dallas at the AAA.  Until then...that's 12 in a row Heat fans! 

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