This time, the Wizards were the Wizards.
Not too long ago — 12 days, to be exact — the Heat lost to the worst team in the NBA. Since then, the Wizards have gotten worse. On Saturday, the Heat buried that team and any memory of that bizarre loss on Dec. 4 in Washington.
The Heat defeated the Wizards 102-72 at AmericanAirlines Arena. It tied for the Heat’s largest victory of the season. LeBron James outscored the Wizards 16-10 in the third quarter.
James led all scorers with 23 points. He was 8 of 15 from the field and had 10 rebounds and five assists. The Heat (15-6) shot 50.6 percent while holding the undermanned Wizards (3-18) to 37.5 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range.
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The game’s biggest drama was whether or not James would score 20 points before being taken out. He did. James has scored at least 20 points in every game this season.
With no chance of playing beyond the third period, James went into overdrive in the final two minutes of the third quarter in an effort to stuff his stat box and extend the streak. In those final two minutes, James went 4 of 5 from the field and never passed the ball.
He was sitting on 19 points for the game with less than 90 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Ray Allen found James on a fast break. James finished with a dunk to keep his streak alive. He has scored at least 20 points in 42 consecutive games dating to last season.
Outside of those frantic — and unintentionally comical — two minutes, it was an easy night for everyone.
“I just wanted to make a statement on the game,” James said. “I wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well. I was missing a lot of free throws, so I wanted to make an impact on the game the best way I know how.”
Dwyane Wade had 13 points in 26 minutes, going 5 of 8 from the field and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line.
“What was good to see is that we didn’t relax,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We just worked the game. Regardless of who was in the game and what the score was, just continue to work our game.”
The Heat is now 3-3 in its past six games. After Wednesday’s last-minute loss to the Warriors, the Heat worked on consistent defense and ball movement in practice Friday and during Saturday morning’s shootaround. With the Wizards playing without several of their top players (and all of their point guards), the Heat built a quick double-digit lead in the first quarter and cruised from there.
“Our defense was able to fuel our offense,” said Udonis Haslem, who scored a season-high 13 points and had seven rebounds.
Here are the most recognizable signs of a Heat blowout:
• The Big 3 watches from the bench in the fourth quarter.
• James Jones makes a three-pointer.
• Dexter Pittman receives playing time.
• D.J. Irie checks out early.
All four of those things happened Saturday.
As is his custom, Jones stroked a three-pointer just as soon as he checked into the game in the final period. It put the Heat ahead by 31 points. Jones is 5 of 11 from three-point range this season.
It was only Pittman’s second appearance of the season. He also played at the end of the Heat’s 30-point blowout of the Brooklyn Nets.
One game after struggling in the fourth quarter against the Warriors, Heat forward Shane Battier wasted little time getting involved in a positive way. Battier made a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter, helping the Heat build a 26-14 lead. Battier finished with six points, and Allen had six points off the bench as well. Mario Chalmers was 4-of-8 shooting for eight points.
Wizards rookie Bradley Beal had 19 points. Jordan Crawford, starting for injured point guard A.J. Price (broken hand), had just five points on 2-of-12 shooting. Cartier Martin had 18 points off the bench.