Despite losing for most of the night, Miami refused to throw in the towel. At the start of the fourth quarter, they cut the Wizards' lead down to 13 and there was a hope that this playoff-tested team could mount one more remarkable comeback.
The next few minutes were representative of the whole game, a microcosm of the lackluster effort, poor shooting and soft defense that the Heat displayed all night. A bad pass by Mario Chalmers. A foul by Shabazz Napier. A 3-pointer from Washington's Drew Gooden, followed by shots from Andre Miller, Kevin Seraphim and Rasual Butler.
The last time the Heat faced the Wizards, Butler's contribution was being on the wrong end of this dunk:
On Monday, he led all scorers with 23 points. At the end of the run described above, the Wizards lead had ballooned to 25 points and the game was all but technically over. It was that kind of night.
The Heat started off missing their first eight attempts from 3-point range while Washington hit their first five and finished 10-of-19 from long-range. When Chris Bosh (21 points) or Dwyane Wade (20 points) would score a big bucket, the Wizards would knock down three or four straight.
It's hard to pin down exactly what went wrong because, in all honesty, everything went wrong for the Heat. Washington's John Wall was deadly finishing with 18 points, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range (where Wall had been shooting 31 percent prior to Monday's game). Marcin Gortat took advantage of Miami's lack of size and chipped in 15 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks but his impact extended well beyond the stat line. Even when Miami's Luol Deng was able to limit Paul Pierce to just four points, Washington got contributions from Butler, Drew Gooden, Otto Porter, Jr. and Andre Miller. It seemed that everyone in a Wizards jersey could score at will on Miami and Washington shot 54 percent from the field and nearly 53 percent from beyond the arc.
Conversely, Miami's shooting was horrific, missing 20 three-point attempts and 12 (of 30) free throws. Only Chalmers (with 11 points) joined Wade and Bosh as a double-figure scorer. But, despite the offensive struggles, the Heat's energy and lack of focus was most visible on defense. The screen-and-roll action between Wall and Gortat was run to perfection and Miami had no answer. Defensive rotations were blown regularly, leading to wide open shot attempts along the perimeter.
The exhaustion of a back-to-back certainly was a factor and Miami have already had six sets this season. Unfortunately, that's life in the NBA and it's not a viable excuse, especially with an upcoming schedule that is downright brutal. The Heat (dropping to 9-8) come back home to host division rival Atlanta on Wednesday, before embarking on a five-game road trip that includes stops in Milwaukee, Memphis, Phoenix, Denver and Utah.
The Wizards game was an opportunity for Miami to make an early-season statement, particularly against a divisional rival and one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Heat couldn't pass, shoot or defend with any sort of purpose or consistent energy. It was just that kind of night.
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