Miami Heat

Miami Heat uses well-rounded effort to knock off Washington Wizards and climb above .500

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) looks to pass around the Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) in the first quarter as the Miami Heat host the Washington Wizards at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Friday, January 4, 2019.
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) looks to pass around the Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) in the first quarter as the Miami Heat host the Washington Wizards at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Friday, January 4, 2019. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Friday was good for Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat. Whiteside started the night by going 2 for 2 on a trip to the free throw line just 20 seconds into the game — his first 2-for-2 trip in almost two months.

Then the center put together his best game in more than a month to help the Heat down the Washington Wizards, 115-109, in Miami. Whiteside finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds, giving him his most points and rebounds in a game since an early-December win against the Utah Jazz.

For only the second time this season, the Heat (19-18) sits above .500 and got it done with another well-rounded effort. Combo guard Josh Richardson added 18 points. Forward Justise Winslow put up a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. Dwyane Wade finished with 14 points on the night Miami unveiled a #OneLastChance campaign to get the future Hall of Fame guard into the All-Star Game.

The Heat started strong at AmericanAirlines Arena behind an initial flurry from Whiteside. Whiteside opened the game with two free throws, then slammed home a dunk and scored on a tip-in. The 7-footer scored six of the Heat’s first nine points and Miami raced out to a 13-4 lead. The Heat led by as many as 11 in the opening period before the Wizards (15-24) fought back in the second.

Washington made 11 of its first 18 shots in the second quarter and finally took a 41-40 lead with 7:13 left in the quarter. The Wizards never stretched its lead larger than three points, though, and by the end of the quarter their shooting percentage for the period had dipped back to 52 percent. The Heat hung onto a 61-58 lead heading into halftime.

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Separation returned for Miami in the third quarter. Washington mostly stayed within two or three points until the final three minutes, when a dunk by forward Sam Dekker cut the Heat’s lead to 84-82. Miami’s reserve hit back with a decisive run to close the quarter.

Post player Bam Adebayo answered with a dunk, then combo guard Josh Richardson drilled a three-pointer a possession later. On the Heat’s next possession, Dwyane Wade found Adebayo for a cutting layup before forward James Johnson capped a 9-0 run with another dunk. Miami took a 95-86 lead into the fourth quarter after Wizards swingman Trevor Ariza closed the third with a three.

Washington’s final run came too late. A three by star shooting guard Bradley Beal cut the Heat’s lead to 110-109 with 1:07 left, but Winslow answered with an out-of-control layup to give Miami some cushion. Wizards forward Jeff Green missed an open three on the next possession and the Heat hung on for its 12th win in 17 games.

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