The Miami HEAT defeated the Washington Wizards 110-102 Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 28 points.
1. Whiteside Feasts
To put it simply, Hassan Whiteside kicked off the game with an alley-oop jam and never looked back. Early on, the big fella feasted inside against the smaller Marcin Gortat and also nailed a few mid-range jumpers for good measure. Of course, he also was active on the offensive glass. Let’s take a look at a perfect example of that in the second quarter.
With 5:00 to play in the period, Whiteside battled with Gortat for a rebound and came down with it. From there, the 27-year-old threw down the thunderous two-handed jam.
As the game progressed, Whiteside continued to punish the rim, much like this and-one alley-oop slam in the fourth quarter.
Whiteside finished with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, 18 rebounds (five offensive), two blocks and a team-high plus-10 rating.
2. Dragić Seals It
As usual, Dragić came to play in a must-win game. All evening long, the Slovenian mixed things up with jumpers, attacks to the basket and fancy footwork in the post. Although Dragić had a quick start, he made sure there was no chance at a Wizards’ comeback with nine points in the fourth quarter. Naturally, one of his best plays of the night came during the flurry.
With 10:58 left in the period, Dragić used a screen from Willie Reed and attacked from the left wing. He then hit Daniel Ochefu with a spin move and finished the play.
In addition to his team-high 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting, the Dragon also had five assists, four boards and a steal.
3. J. Johnson Flirts With A Triple-Double
James Johnson certainly is a matchup nightmare, eh? Throughout the contest, the burly forward put a lot of pressure on Washington due to his fantastic playmaking ability. As such, he led Miami with eight assists on the night. Not to mention, Johnson also came through with a bunch of assertive drives. One of the 30-year-old’s most impressive plays occurred late in the third quarter.
With 5:13 left in the period, Johnson took Kelly Oubre Jr. off the dribble, hit him with a slick spin-move and hit the shot.
On the flip side of the ball, Johnson did a nice job of holding Oubre Jr. to just 4-of-12 shooting.
In all, the Wake Forest product scored 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out eight assists and blocked a shot.
-Like he has in his previous five outings, Josh Richardson once again had a great all-around performance. The 23-year-old knocked down threes, defended multiple guys and showed a lot of energy in his 37 minutes of action.
You also can’t forget this amazing alley-oop jam in transition.
When it was all said and done, Richardson tallied 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-6 from deep, and two rebounds.
-While Willie Reed provided a spark off the bench in the first half and did a lot of damage on the offensive glass, his explosion in the third quarter was a sight to behold. In fact, the center scored eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting in the period. Overall, Reed ended up with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and six rebounds (three offensive).
-With the win, the HEAT became the first team in NBA history to go from 19 games under .500 (11-30) to .500 (41-41) in the same season.
-Dion Waiters (sprained left ankle) and Justise Winslow (right shoulder surgery) sat out.
-Although the HEAT failed to make the postseason since the Pacers and Bulls also won on Wednesday night, their run during the second half of the season was remarkable. No matter what was thrown in Miami’s path, the team blocked out the noise and simply competed every single night. Falling short of the playoffs may sting in the short term, but this season will never be forgotten.