It was shaping up to be another one of those needlessly close games, as the Wizards cut Miami's lead to 78-71 with seven minutes remaining. The Heat held Washington scoreless over those final seven minutes, however, a tribute both to a noticeable increase in defensive intensity and the Wizards' characteristically inept offense. Miami outscored Washington 21-0 during the run.
Chris Bosh had it going early, shooting 4-for-4 in his 11-point first quarter. Bosh shot just 2-for-7 from that point forward, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds. He did have four blocks, though, which is something the Heat could use more of.
Miami's oft-maligned rebounding earned a one-night reprieve, winning the battle of the boards 50-39 and hauling in 10 offensive rebounds against the Wizards, who are the 11th best defensive rebounding team in the NBA. Udonis Haslem's 12 boards were a team-high and Dwyane Wade (seven) and Ray Allen (six) were active on the glass as well.
Speaking of rebounding, I wouldn't expect an unemployed (e.g. Kenyon Martin) or buyout candidate power forward to come in and solve the Heat's rebounding deficiencies. The answer, or rather answers, are already on the roster. Erik Spoelstra admitted as much recently. The fact is Bosh, LeBron James and Wade will have to pick up the slack in the playoffs, when the games actually matter. Until then, I'll side with the Palm Beach Post's Ethan Skolnick, who attributed Miami's woes to its all-in commitment to small ball. Everything looks great when Ray Allen and Shane Battier are raining corner threes; but those come at a cost, and the price is usually paid on the other end of the floor.
Speaking of Allen, he provided some much-needed scoring in the fourth quarter, pouring in 13 of his 20 points in the final 12 minutes to help Miami pull away.
It's hard to put much stock in a game like this. Washington, a lottery team at full strength, was missing John Wall, Trevor Ariza and Chris Singleton. Even with such a depleted team, the Wizards were within seven points 41 minutes into the game. It'd be nice to see the Heat step on the throat of an opponent like this early and give James a chance to rest (he rolled his ankle in the third quarter and has been dealing with a right knee injury). Alas, James had to log 35 minutes