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Heat coast to 123-107 victory in physical bout against young Wizards

[caption id="attachment_5033" align="aligncenter" width="441" caption="Brothers in Arms"][/caption] A long night after the fallout to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami re-gained their composure to defeat the testy Wizards in Washington 123-107. The similarly young Wizards had fresh legs, battling attitude and fire in their guts but lacked the firepower and the 20,000 screaming fans as in Cleveland to fuel them past Miami. Chris Bosh once again took part in the offensive alongside Wade and Bosh, all three combining for 94 of the Heat’s 123 points (tied their season high). Miami’s tenacious defense was not as omnipotent as it can be -- allowing Washington to shoot close to 50% from the field and 56% from beyond-the-arc -- but enough to subdue and outscore them over 48 minutes. Game Notes:
  • Bibby continues to shine as the starting point guard, providing tranquility to the offense when needed and making veteran decisions with the ball. Although he was obviously over-matched facing John Wall’s speed, he would not hesitate to pressure him at opportune times. One of those times caused Wall to commit a backcourt violation, a rare call in professional basketball but one provoked by Bibby’s timely defensive position.
  • A brief scuffle broke out between the teams with 8:48 to go in the 2nd quarter, sparked by 35-year old Zydrunas Ilgauskas and 20-year old John Wall. It began with a pass to Big Z being slightly deflected by his defender. After picking up the loose ball, John Wall would avidly take swipes at the ball and an irked Ilgauskas would attempt to create space by elbowing him in the face. Irritated, Wall took a swiping elbow to Z’s body which provoked the big man to take a calm charge at the youngster. As both teams gathered around the commotion, Juwan Howard pushed McGee out of position and taunted him. Wizards coach Flip Saunders intervened, said things that seemingly did not sit well with Juwan as he swiftly pushed rookie official Bret Barnaky out of the way to get in coach Saunder’s face. Wall, Ilgauskas and Howard received Flagrant Penalty 2s and were ejected from the game. Juwan Howard might not have the defensive skills Alonzo Mourning brought to the 06’ championship team, but when it gets testy it’s nice to have the feistiest member of the Fab Five on your side.
  • Spoelstra chose Hamady N’Diaye to shoot both of the ensuing technical free throws as he had only shot 6-of-10 the entire season. He would miss both. Coach Saunders went with the Big Cat, who nailed 1-of-2.
  • With John Wall ejected and Nick Young absent due to injury, trade deadline acquisition Jordan Crawford was given the green light to shoot at will and took upon the scoring role, dropping a career-high 39 points. Veteran Maurice Evans contributed 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting and previous D-League Player of the Year Othys Jeffers added hustle and 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
  • Unlike the Cavaliers, the Wizards lacked ball movement and featured a roulette of isolation plays. It would show on the stat sheet, with the Heat amassing 28 assists to the Wizards’ 15.
  • After the endless night in Cleveland, the scuffle and referee reviews once again stretched the game till late. Both teams combined for 70 free throw attempts with the Wizards handing out 30 hard fouls to the Heat’s more strategic 18.
Although the opposition was inexperienced and lacked key pieces they would not go down without a clawing fight, quick to test Miami’s mettle. Perhaps it was the respect for Cleveland, the team and city, that prevented him from jeering at the same physicality last night. Tonight, the fuse was shorter, Washington not so lucky. It’s encouraging to see the Heat boasting their pride and James riled at the hard fouls coming his way. Any team Miami faces in the playoffs will be sure to put James on the floor, and by the look at tonight’s game….he’s ready to fight back.