Miami Heat

Home struggles continue for Miami Heat in loss to Washington Wizards

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade passes the ball against Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Dec. 19, 2014.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade passes the ball against Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Dec. 19, 2014. El Nuevo Herald

For more than three quarters, the Heat played its best basketball in more than a month. It wasn’t enough to defeat the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, though.

The Washington Wizards came to Miami on Friday fueled by all those bitter memories of losing at AmericanAirlines Arena in recent years and riding a five-game winning streak. It was enough momentum and motivation to deny the Heat on its best night in its home building since perhaps the first week of the season. A 105-103 defeat to the Wizards was the Heat’s fifth-straight loss at home and eighth in nine games. Miami (12-15) is now 4-9 at home on the season.

“That’s tough to lose that at the end,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It came down to they made more plays.”

A three-pointer by Dwyane Wade cut the Wizards’ lead to 101-100 with 11 seconds to play, but it was Wade who tossed a poor pass with 3.8 seconds remaining that sealed it for Washington. Bradley Beal made two free throws to give the Wizards a five-point lead and its first victory in Miami this season. The Heat defeated Washington 107-95 at AmericanAirlines Arena in the season opener.

The Heat has lost plenty at home recently, but this one stung a little more, Spoelstra said.

“It’s still raw right now,” Spoelstra said afterwards.

Wade cut the Wizards’ lead to two points with under a minute to play, but Wizards star guard John Wall made 1 of 2 free throws and Wade then missed a six-foot runner in the lane. Wade finished with a game-high 28 points in the loss, and also had eight assists. His five turnovers were costly, though.

“This was a game everyone wanted to win and we had a chance, I had a chance a lot of times to close them out and didn’t do it, so I’ll take this one,” Wade said.

The Heat had 16 turnovers to Washington’s nine in an exciting game that featured 18 lead changes and six ties. The Wizards had 22 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds. Spoelstra countered with those numbers when asked about the Heat’s hot start offensively.

With a balanced offensive effort led by Mario Chalmers, the Heat shot 65 percent in the first half, but Miami allowed the Wizards to shoot 50 percent. The Heat went 12 of 15 from the field in the second quarter, but only led 55-54 at halftime. This was the Heat’s fourth-straight game without center Chris Bosh, who has a sprained calf.

Wall finished with 20 points and 10 assists. He was 6 of 10 from the field and made 10 foul shots. Nene had 20 points off the bench and Beal had 16 points. The Wizards won despite going 3 of 14 from three-point range.

An excellent fake by Norris Cole left Luol Deng wide open on the perimeter with 3:37 remaining, and Deng delivered with a three-pointer to put the Heat ahead by two points. That lead didn’t hold, though.

Wall tied the game at 95-95 with a layup, and then Paul Pierce tapped in a put-back to give the Wizards the lead with 1:32 remaining. An offensive foul credited to Wade then gave the ball back to Washington and Wall drilled a 20-footer to give the Wizards (19-6) a four-point cushion.

Chalmers had two points in the second half after starting the game with 12 in the first half. Deng finished with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot. Udonis Haslem had 11 points off the bench.

Wade went to the baseline to give the Heat a five-point lead with 6:54 left and he found Hassan Whiteside inside for a dunk after a 20-foot jumper by Wizards guard John Wall. Added to the Heat’s roster Nov.24, Whiteside delivered his most significant minutes since joining the team. The seven-footer played 16 minutes and finished with six points and seven rebounds, but also committed five fouls.

Spoelstra called Whiteside the “bright spot because he has been working extremely hard.”

The Heat played five reserves, but rookie point guard Shabazz Napier wasn’t one of them. Chris Andersen started again in the frontcourt, but this time paired with Shawne Williams. It was the Heat’s 12th different lineup of the season.

Beal floated a layup over Whiteside’s long arms to cut the Heat’s lead to 92-90 with 5:27 remaining, and the Wizards took the lead with 3:58 left on a fast-break layup by Pierce, the Heat’s longtime heel. Pierce has added a veteran presence to the Wizards, which has won 10 of its last 11 games.

A beautiful no-look pass by Wade to Haslem on a pick-and-roll gave the Heat an 83-80 lead with 10:04 left, but Wade lost his cool a few possessions later and was hit for a technical foul for arguing a foul call. That mental mistake was one of several for Wade in the final period.

“Guys played a good game, man,” Wade said. “Can’t ask for a better game. My teammates came out and played an amazing game, so this one hurts. I’ll take this one and put it on my shoulders. I’ve got to do better for my guys.”

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