The Miami HEAT outlasted the Washington Wizards 98-90 in a scrappy but entertaining victory that kept the defending champs in the hunt for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference standings.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each scored 22 points and LeBron James led the team with 23 points. Reserve Ray Allen contributed 13 points including 3-6 from beyond the arc. Wade was particularly exceptional with 13 fourth quarter points when the Heat needed it the most to help put away the pesky Wizards, who would not go away and made a serious run at extending the Heat's losing streak to four games. Instead the Heat clinched a spot in the postseason with the victory.
The Heat began the game with the hot hand, quickly going up 16-6 with three quick LeBron three-pointers, two shots from Wade and a corner three from Shane Battier. The team closed the first quarter with a 69% FG performance. But even though the Wizards kept missing shots, the Heat simply could not contain Marcin Gortat and the Wizards, and it was rather embarrassing to watch them continuously whiff on defensive rebounding opportunities as they allowed the road team to get back into the game. The Wizards absolutely crushed the Heat almost strictly on second chance points. The team as a whole grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone, tying a Heat franchise record for an opponent.
Though Udonis Haslem only appeared for five minutes, he had a hand in changing the team's efforts on defense midway through the second quarter and was also able to keep a few loose balls alive that allowed the Heat to secure the rebound.
Gortat had moments where he was practically unstoppable on both ends of the floor and his impact on the game was even greater than his 14 points and 18 rebounds, half of them on offense, would suggest. Star point guard John Wall never got it going, finishing with a quiet 7 points, 8 assists and 7 turnovers. Bradley Beal had his moments as well with 18 points, but went 7-18 form the field to get it.
In contrast, LeBron was back to his efficient self with 10-15 from the field for his game-leading 23 points. Though the team was clicking offensively, they made their run in the second half on the strength of their defense. The Heat retook the lead with an 11-2 run to begin the fourth quarter, but the Wizards immediately responded to cut the deficit to 78-79.
This is when the Big 3 each stepped up to ensure the home victory, with the three All-Stars responsible for the rest of the team's 16 points scored over the course of the final six minutes of the game to put the game away.