It’s been a forgettable five weeks for the Washington Wizards, who are looking to put another loss behind them Friday night when they host a Miami Heat team on the verge of its longest winning streak in over four months.
The Wizards own the Eastern Conference’s fifth-best record at 34-27, but they’ve gone an NBA-worst 3-12 since Jan. 28. Washington has been limited to an average of 94.8 points during that stretch, including 87.3 on 39.5 percent shooting in its last four.
"We just have to figure it out," said Bradley Beal, who’s scored 21 points on 8 of 28 from the floor in two games since returning from a toe injury. "It’s up to us in here. (Coach Randy Wittman) can preach to us, but it’s us (as players) that have to stick together and just figure it out."
The Wizards snapped a season-worst six-game skid with Saturday’s 99-95 win over Detroit, but their woes resumed in Tuesday’s 97-92 loss at Chicago. Washington, which trailed by 12 early in the fourth quarter, climbed to within three with 1:49 to go but couldn’t complete the comeback.
"We take too many periods of the game where we coast," Wittman said. "The last five minutes is how we have been playing for 48 minutes, and until we can get that back it’s going to be a struggle."
John Wall had 21 points and 11 assists for his NBA-leading 33rd double-double among guards, while Nene went scoreless and shot 0 for 4 before fouling out. Nene scored 21 against the Pistons.
"I’m sure (Nene’s) foul trouble took away some of his effectiveness. That’s not an excuse. We have to get away from excuses," Wittman said.
Miami (27-33) is seeking its first three-game run since opening 3-0 after beating the Los Angeles Lakers 100-94 on Wednesday. Dwyane Wade had 25 points, Goran Dragic scored 21 and Hassan Whiteside added 18 to go with 25 rebounds for the second-highest total in team history behind Rony Seikaly’s 34 on March 3, 1993, against Washington.
The Heat outscored the Lakers 33-11 at the foul line and held a 55-42 edge on the glass.
"It was good to see us show some grit," coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Miami pulled away for a 107-95 win over the Wizards in the season opener for both teams Oct. 29 before losing the next two meetings, including a 107-86 road defeat Dec. 1. The Heat have dropped three straight and five of their last six visits to Washington, with all but one of those losses coming by at least 17 points.
The Wizards will get their first real look at Whiteside, who’s averaging 15.0 points and an East-leading 14.6 rebounds in 16 games since Jan. 25. He is also shooting 60.8 percent to rank second in the league during that time.
Whiteside is a big reason why Miami has climbed into seventh place in the conference.
"He’s special, he’s so long," Wade said of the 7-footer. "They have to put three guys on him sometimes to stop him. He just gives us the opportunity to play more pressure defense, and offensively he’s come into his own, too. The sky’s the limit like we continue to keep saying."
The Heat have dropped five of seven on the road while allowing an average of 100.3 points. Washington is 26-7 when scoring at least 98.