Dwyane Wade on his 16th and final NBA season
A difficult road trip that could have left the Heat out of playoff position instead turned out quite nicely, and now Miami goes home clinging to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and still holding out hopes of ascending higher.
A night after being drubbed in Milwaukee, the Heat summoned the necessary energy after a slow start, and the greatness of Dwyane Wade, to dispatch the Washington Wizards, 113-108, on Saturday and finish the road trip at 3-1.
In improving to 36-37, the Heat moved one full game ahead of No. 9 Orlando, which visits AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday. Miami – which would have fallen to ninth in the East if it had lost on Saturday - trails No. 7 Brooklyn by 1 ½ games.
The Heat, which played a fifth consecutive game without Justise Winslow and trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, had difficulty shaking a Wizards team playing without John Wall, Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza, even in an arena where the crowd erupted in a “Let’s Go Heat” chant on at least three occasions.
But Wade, cheered loudly and often in his final game in the nation’s capital, was magnificent in the fourth quarter, with a dunk, a layup (off a beautiful Bam Adebayo assist) and a patented turnaround jumper, and then a mid-range jumper to push the lead to five with just over four minutes left. Then, for good measure, he stripped Troy Brown Jr. a minute later, ending a Wizards possession.
And his pass to Kelly Olynyk for a dunk put the Heat up five with 16.8 seconds left, essentially settling matters.
Wade closed with 20 points on 9 for 16 shooting, plus nine rebounds and five assists.
This was a signature game for Adebayo, who made enormous across the board contributions, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks and igniting the Heat when Miami lacked energy early. He didn’t even pick up his first foul under three minutes remained.
And there was plenty of help from others.
Josh Richardson broke out of a dreadful shooting slump to score 18 points, finishing 6 of 12 from the field.
Dion Waiters - who was ill and had an IV before the game - was very good, with 19 points on 7 for 13 shooting.
James Johnson had a personal 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter to highlight a 13-point night. And Olynyk chipped in 14 points.
Washington had a chance to tie late, but Thomas Satoransky missed with a three-pointer with 23 seconds left. And then Olynyk’s dunk essentially sealed it.
For the second time this week, Hassan Whiteside played only five minutes, with Spoelstra instead opting to use Olynyk at center in the second half when Adebayo was resting.
Please click here for takeaways from the game, including historical perspective on what Adebayo accomplished and lots of reaction of Adebayo, Wade, Whiteside (who played only five minutes) and others.