WASHINGTON — Neither the Miami Heat nor the Washington Wizards have forged a consistent winning path this season. At least the Southeast Division foes enter their first meeting of the season coming off rare victories.
Miami (3-8) ended a six-game losing streak Thursday with a 96-73 rout over the Milwaukee Bucks. Hassan Whiteside blocked seven shots — the most in the NBA this season — and Dion Waiters scored 23 points. The losing streak was the Heat’s longest since 2008.
Washington (3-8) nearly had its own blowout, but still won comfortably over New York. John Wall had 23 points and 11 assists in their 119-112 victory as the Wizards drained 15 of 25 3-pointers. The point guard sank all three of his deep attempts in the third quarter as Washington turned a 53-43 halftime lead into a 27-point cushion.
Otto Porter scored 21 points and Bradley Beal had 18 points in his return after missing the previous three games with a hamstring injury. One of those missed game included a loss to a 1-win and short-handed Philadelphia 76ers team Wednesday night.
"We were hungry for a win," Beal said. "We knew this was a tough team with a bunch of scorers. Our biggest thing was to make sure that we were defending and just control what we control and get back to having fun, get back to playing for one another and do whatever it takes to win. We did a great job of keeping up that pressure."
They needed that large margin because New York scored 47 points in the fourth quarter, but never could pull closer than seven points.
The late fade forced coached Scott Brooks to put his starters back into the game, but didn’t damper his enthusiasm for his team’s effort and the much needed win.
"That is the message I have been talking about," Brooks said. "We have to play for 48 minutes but I thought we played a great basketball game coming back from a tough loss last night. Guys really competed. We moved the ball. Having Brad out there, we are a different team for the obvious reasons."
Having an interior force like Whiteside gives the Heat a different component than most teams.
"Anytime I see a team that likes to score in the paint, my eyes light up," said Whiteside, who also had 12 points and 17 rebounds.
Miami’s bench helped fuel the win which came despite trailing 20-6. James Johnson and Tyler Johnson combined for 17 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists.
"That’s what we’re supposed to do," James Johnson told the Miami Herald. "That’s what the reserves are for — bring energy, sustain the lead or come back from any deficit. I think we did our job today."
Washington’s bench play has been a major source of the early-season struggles, though Marcus Thornton scored 13 points against the Knicks.