The Heat played one of its best quarters of the season Wednesday and was within striking distance of its first victory over a team with a winning record.
And then turnovers became an issue again.
The Heat (6-8), which entered the game averaging 16.6 turnovers per game (24th among 30 NBA teams), committed 17 with the costliest eight coming in the fourth quarter of a 102-93 defeat against the Washington Wizards at AmericanAirlines Arena.
All six Heat wins this season have come against teams under .500 and all eight losses have been under teams with sub-.500 records. The Wizards (9-5) took the first of back-to-back games against the Heat this week as the teams will meet again Friday in Washington.
"We can’t control officiating," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I mean obviously that got to us at the end, and that’s the way it’s always going to be until we earn it. We haven’t earned anything yet. But what we can control are our decisions and the responsibility with the ball.
"That probably has been more damaging than anything all season long in our losses is our inability to take care of the basketball and see what happens in the second half of the possession. It’s a synapse, impulse control thing right now that we need to get a hold of. And when we do, even tonight, as much as it seemed like they were living in the paint and living at the free-throw line, we hold them to 41 percent. If we have those turnovers more manageable, we’re giving up 26 off those turnovers, it probably looks quite different going down the stretch."
The Heat continued to have brilliant stretches as well as some waves of poor play that ultimately cost them a victory once again.
"Guys are upset man, guys are upset," said Hassan Whiteside, who finished with 14 points and 21 rebounds. "We was up eight with eight minutes left and just to see how we fought back and got a lead and then guys came back and we couldn’t get back. So guys are upset."
The Wizards took a lead as large as 13 and were shooting as high as 61.5 percent with 8:12 left in the second quarter.
The Heat opened the second half on 17-3 run during one of its best quarters of the season in which it outscored the Wizards 25-10 and limited the Wizards to 4 of 19 shooting.
Goran Dragic led the charge and finished with 21 points.
"I just think sometimes when we make a run either we're getting back into a game or we have a huge lead, our style of basketball kind of changes," Tyler Johnson said. "We're not being as aggressive. We're not pushing the tempo like we were to push the lead up or to get back into the game. It kind of has a similar to what we were battling last year as far as end of games or finishing games. We have to keep our foot on the gas. It's just something we have to get better at it."
But in the fourth, the Heat got sloppy with the basketball once again.
The Wizards took advantage led by John Wall, who finished with 27 points and Bradley Beal, who finished with 26.
Wall scored 16 in first half, matching his career scoring average (16.0) against the Heat, which ranks second among his NBA opposition behind only Oklahoma City (15.4).
"Just like we’ve been saying for a while, that word to be able to sustain," Spoelstra said. "We have some of the best basketball we can play and some of the worst basketball and it will go back and forth countless times during the course of a game, so it’s there. It’s neck-up for us to be able to develop this mental resiliency and to be able to put our best game out there and sustain it for 48 minutes."