Heat top Wiz after LeBron, Spoelstra talk
LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra had a pregame meeting Monday afternoon to talk about Miami's offensive woes.
Early returns suggest it was a productive chat.
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James had 20 of his points in the first half, Wade added 15 in the third quarter, and though it didn't get into a blowout until the fourth quarter - it's the fifth time already this season where the Wizards have lost by double digits away from home - it was comfortable for Miami throughout.
"We have to figure out how to complement each other on the court," James said.
That wasn't an issue Monday.
The Heat topped 100 points for the first time in seven games, and led by as many as 22 on the way to just their second win in their past six outings. It came in the first contest following a Saturday loss in Dallas that remains a hot topic, for James' shoulder-bump of Spoelstra during a time-out when Miami was coming unglued in the third quarter, then a 40-minute players-only postgame meeting.
"We move on. You know, we can't dwell on this. It's a step in the right direction," said Spoelstra, whose career record moved to 100-82. "And now we have to continue to build these habits and remember that pain. I won't forget the pain of the other night, the third quarter, and I don't want our guys to forget that, either."
"We knew they have a lot of talent," Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich said. "You have to give them credit. Their 'Big 3' kind of carried them tonight."
The Wizards were without No. 1 draft pick John Wall, who missed his second straight game with a bruised right knee, and went largely with a seven-man rotation for much of the night. Washington was also again without Al Thornton (ankle) and Yi Jianlian (knee).
"It got to the point late where we didn't have any enough runs left in us," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said.
Miami's lead was only 55-49 with 10:31 left in the third quarter, before Wade - who has been slumping - got his scoring touch back.
He did it in a hurry, too.
Wade scored 15 points in the quarter, matching a Heat season best for any quarter this season, and needed only 6:17 to get that done. Consecutive jumpers 27 seconds apart, both set up by James, got him started, and he went on the attack the rest of the quarter - getting all 11 of his remaining points either at the foul line or on driving layups.
"Bron kept telling me the whole game, stay aggreessive, stay aggressive. ... Finally got some shots to fall," Wade said.
Wade's personal spurt ended with 3:17 left in the period, when he split defenders on a spin move, got fouled, made a layup from the left side and hit the free throw for a 76-63 lead.
From there, things got chippy.
Washington's Hilton Armstrong and Miami's Juwan Howard were ejected with 32.3 seconds left in the third. Armstrong flagrantly fouled Heat center Joel Anthony on a layup attempt, pushing him with both hands in what was deemed a flagrant-2 infraction. Howard's night ended after referee Bill Kennedy saw he had pushed Armstrong in the back while coming to Anthony's defense.
"I love what the veteran on our team did," Wade said.
Armstrong sounded apologetic afterward.
"I wasn't really trying to hurt him or anything like that, I just didn't want him to have any easy dunk or an easy lay-up," Armstrong said. "You clearly saw he lost his balance when he was in the air. I didn't mean to hit him that hard, but he fell. I went to go try to help him out, but then Howard came and pushed me in the back."
Hinrich and Miami's James Jones were called for double technicals after getting in each other's faces with 8:20 left to play, and Washington's Trevor Booker was called for a flagrant-1 about 5 minutes later.
Spoelstra wanted the Heat to bring a more physical approach, and they responded.
"I think it's great," Spoelstra said. "We don't want guys getting thrown out of the game, but I think this was a direct residual of the weekend and guys are getting tired of it. We know we really have to get more physical, particularly under the glass. I like it when we come in with a chip on our shoulder."
NOTES: Arenas hit a 26-footer at the end of the half, drawing Washington within 52-44 at the break. ... Carlos Arroyo was trying to give James a message while Wade was shooting free throws in the third quarter, but couldn't immediately find the two-time MVP - who was having a laugh at midcourt with Heat owner Micky Arison during the stoppage in play. ... Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was courtside. ... Wade was sidelined briefly in the first quarter to get treatment - for a hangnail.