Strong 4th quarter pushes Heat past Wizards
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwyane Wade started his drive to the basket with a behind-the-back dribble at the free throw line, then followed with a 360-degree move in the paint and ended with a shot off the glass.
The play started one of those poetry-in-motion runs, with fluid dribbles, spin moves and alley-oop passes to LeBron James. Wade went on to either score or get the assist on 20 straight Miami Heat points.
Wade finished with 26 points, and James had 18 points and nine assists Friday night in the Heat’s 106-89 win over the Washington Wizards, a rebound victory on a road trip that had a tough start in Orlando two days earlier.
“It was very fun,” Wade said. “That’s why we love to play this game. He makes me look good, so I think that’s what the fans came to see. They love to see their favorite players do amazing things.”
Wade and James combined to score Miami’s last 18 points of the first half, including a pair of one-handed throw-down alley-oop Wade-to-James dunks during a 10-0 spurt.
Coach Erik Spoelstra had no problem with the show — until the pair tried to get a little too fancy.
“We want to be efficient, and that’s the most important thing,” Spoelstra said. “And we were able to get some of those opportunities there in the second quarter. I think that last one was probably where we needed to be a little bit more judicious about it and try to get the score — there was also one of those in the fourth quarter.
“We have a team that feeds off electric plays, and that’s fine. I’m not going to put the reins on that, so we’ll continue to get better at that. We understand the importance of taking care of the ball.”
As for James, he figures the alley-oop is not only a crowd-pleaser — it’s a high percentage shot.
“I think we’re probably 90 percent on the alley-oops this year,” James said. “Either him-to-me or me-to-him, so we don’t have to be worried about getting too carried away.”
Chris Bosh had 24 points and 11 rebounds, making for only the second time this season that he and Wade have scored 20-plus. The Heat bounced back from a 13-point loss at Orlando on Wednesday to improve to 1-1 on their six-game road trip, and they had the perfect foil: Miami has won six straight and 12 of 13 against the Wizards, and seven in a row in Washington.
Spoelstra attributed the turnaround to a “real, objective, raw film session” Friday morning.
“That’s what was needed. We couldn’t just leave that game behind in Orlando,” the coach said. “All of us were disappointed about it.”
JaVale McGee scored a season-high 24 points and had 13 rebounds to lead the Wizards (5-22), who are 3-7 since Randy Wittman replaced fired coach Flip Saunders.
Nick Young scored 22 points for Washington, and John Wall had 15 points and tied his season high with 10 assists. Trevor Booker grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.
The Wizards stayed within shouting distance until the fourth quarter with some acrobatic plays of their own. The Heat led 52-42 after a first half that included a combined five alley-oop baskets and a few misfires.
“Nobody wants to see that show going against you,” Wittman said. “I thought we had a little bit of a show of our own.”
But McGee felt some of his teammates got a bit star-struck.
“Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes, they see LeBron out there. They see D-Wade out there,” McGee said. “They say: `Oh my God, he’s going to work on them.'”
The comical highlight came late in the first half when Booker corralled a loose ball under the basket with no one around, but it slipped out of his hands as he went up for the dunk. He stared at his palms as he started upcourt, even as the Heat were racing ahead for one of those Wade-to-James dunks.
Washington pulled within one after an 11-0 run in the third quarter, but the Heat responded with a 10-4 stretch that included a layup from Wade and a three-point play from James.
“You can tell they’ve played together a while,” Wittman said. “They find each other incredibly well.”
NOTES: Miami F Shane Battier scored a season-high 15 points. … Heat G Mario Chalmers returned after the Orlando loss with a sprained left hand, but he failed to score in 25 minutes. … Wizards F Rashard Lewis missed his third straight game with a sore left knee. … The Wizards had their first sellout of the season.