With the playoffs a week away, Dwyane Wade left the Miami Heat arena Saturday night with his swollen finger in a splint — and considered himself lucky.
Wade played less than three minutes before dislocating his left index finger, but avoided serious injury as the Heat lost 86-84 to the woeful Washington Wizards.
A doctor reset Wade’s finger, and X-rays were negative.
”I’m not going to cry about it,” he said. ”When I was sitting on the table before they could put it back in, the worst-case scenario was surgery, and the best-case scenario was this. Obviously, it will be sore for a couple of days, but I’ll be ready to go when the playoffs start, for sure.”
The Heat fell two games behind the Chicago Bulls in the loss column in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference, with only three games remaining.
”Second place is not a bad place to be,” Wade said.
His injury was ironic because coach Erik Spoelstra has made getting healthy a priority late in the regular season. As a result, LeBron James sat out for only the second time this season Saturday, and Chris Bosh was also rested.
James was active, but had been told he wouldn’t play. When Wade departed, James got taped in preparation for entering the game.
”He was overzealous,” Spoelstra said with a smile. ”We quickly got him on the same page about it. … You have to mentally prepare to play. That wasn’t the situation for him to go in.”
The Wizards’ John Wall said he expected to see James take the court.
”I was thinking that the start of the second half he was going to come out and play,” Wall said. ”I’m not complaining. I’ll take the win.”
Nene took a feed from a driving Wall and banked in the winning layup for Washington with 0.5 seconds left.
”We don’t underestimate any team because their stars are out,” Wall said. ”Everybody is here for a reason. They are in the NBA because they can play.”
Wade was on defense when he appeared to get his finger caught in another player’s jersey in the opening minutes. He immediately went to the locker room grimacing in pain.
”I looked down, and the knuckle was up and down,” he said with a chuckle. ”I’ve never had a dislocated finger before.”
Fans later chanted ”We want Dwyane!” But he never returned from the locker room. Without him, Miami lost for the first time in six games.
Cartier Martin scored 22 points for Washington. Wall had 13 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and four steals, and Kevin Seraphin scored 17 points for the Wizards, who outscored Miami 22-3 on fast-break points.
The Wizards have only 17 victories, but they’ve won five of their past seven games, beating both Chicago and Miami down the stretch.
Miami’s Mike Miller led a second-half comeback and finished with his first double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Mario Chalmers also scored 16 points, and Udonis Haslem had a season-high 15 rebounds.
Without their stars, the Heat played poorly early and trailed 57-43 with 19 minutes left. They rallied to take their first lead of the game on Miller’s follow shot at the start of the fourth quarter.
”This was a great game for the rest of the guys,” Spoelstra said. ”To be able to compete, the guys showed a lot of toughness, especially when we got down double digits, to find a different way and not have to rely on Dwyane and Chris and LeBron. There were some brilliant, tough plays on both ends.”
Miller scored 10 consecutive Heat points — including back-to-back three-pointers — to put them up 70-66. Washington responded with a 9-0 run capped by Maurice Evans’ three.
Wall drove and fed Nene for a dunk that put the Wizards ahead 84-82 with 46 seconds left. After a Washington turnover, Haslem dunked on a follow to make it 84-all with 4.2 seconds to go.
Another drive by Wall set up the winning basket. Afterward, he hugged James.
”I just told him good luck in the playoffs, and go get a championship,” Wall said. ”I know that’s his goal. I’ll probably be down here watching one of the playoff games down the road.”
NOTES: James had led the Heat in scoring for 12 consecutive games. … The Heat fell to 8-3 when trailing at home after the first quarter. … Washington’s Jordan Crawford was 0 for 8 before he swished a shot from midcourt to beat the halftime buzzer and give Washington a 45-37 lead.