Heat nip Wizards for 12th straight win
LeBron James and Chris Bosh converged on Kirk Hinrich, who was driving toward the basket for the layup that could end the Miami Heat's winning streak.
Contact by James. Contact by Bosh. Hinrich is helpless as he floats a shot that comes nowhere close as time expires.
No call by the officials.
The Heat beat the Washington Wizards 95-94 on Saturday night, pulling out their 12th straight victory with a few late breaks against a last-place team missing No. 1 overall pick John Wall and the just-traded Gilbert Arenas.
''It's the law of verticality. He went straight up; I went straight up,'' said James, explaining the final play. ''The Miami Heat getting a break? I don't think so.''
It sure looked that way to the Wizards, even if it's a call that rarely seems to be made in the frenetic closing seconds of a game.
''The referees have a tough job. I felt like I was fouled,'' Hinrich said. ''I saw the replay and thought it was an obvious foul. I don't know what to say.''
So the Wizards lost their seventh straight, and James had the same experience he's had everywhere else lately: He got booed and won, only this time he and his teammates celebrated with on-court hugs as if they were the team starved for success.
''It was a celebration of, 'We found a way to win,''' James said. ''Being down like that, being down five with 30 seconds to go ... and just willing a victory like that. Wins like that, you don't just walk off the court. You feel good about those wins, because those don't come very much in the NBA season.''
James finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists, shooting 9 for 19 from the field with a pair of jump-shot air balls in the second half. He also committed four turnovers, including a charging call when he barreled into Hilton Armstrong with the Heat trying to play catch-up in the fourth quarter.
Bosh and Dwyane Wade both finished with 20 points, with Wade making a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds to play to give the Heat their only lead of the fourth quarter. Miami overcame a four-point deficit with 17 seconds remaining, starting when Bosh made two of three free throws after getting fouled while attempting a 3-pointer. Then came James Jones' two free throws after he made a steal on the Wizards' inbounds pass.
Hinrich, who gave a gutsy performance by playing all but 6 seconds of the game on a night when his team was severely undermanned, then made only one of two at the line to put the Wizards ahead by one with 13 seconds to go. That gave the Heat the opening they needed. Wade responded with the two free throws, and Hinrich ran into the two-man wall at the buzzer.
''We probably played as hard as we have all year,'' Hinrich said. ''I felt we should have won the game, and to cough it up like that, it's hard to swallow for sure.''
The Heat have won 10 games by double figures during their run, but they were playing the second night of a back-to-back after a 113-91 victory at New York on Friday. The raggedness showed as Miami committed 17 turnovers, including seven by Bosh.
''We played a horrible basketball game,'' Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said. ''We really did. We did not come in with a great focus or consistency. ... Sometimes you steal games when a team outplays you for the majority of the game.''
Nick Young tied his season high with 30 points for the Wizards. Hinrich had 13 points and 12 assists, Andray Blatche had 20 points and 12 rebounds after missing two games with a sore left knee, and JaVale McGee had four blocks in a surprisingly energetic defensive performance by a team that had allowed at least 100 points in all but one game of its losing streak.
Earlier in the day, the Wizards shipped Arenas to Orlando for Rashard Lewis, who did not arrive in time to play with his new team. The Wizards were also without No. 1 overall pick Wall, who missed his third straight game with tendinitis in his right knee. In addition, President Barack Obama was also no-show, canceling plans to witness the talents that now make their home somewhere near South Beach.
''For him to actually see what I do live, it would have been great,'' James said before the game, ''but he's a busy man.''
The president might have been more impressed with Young and Co., who took the lead on Blatche's 17-footer at the third-quarter buzzer and held onto it until the final minute of the game.
''It was crazy,'' Wade said. ''We had luck on our side, but I think we also executed pretty well what we wanted to do.''
Notes: The Heat have their longest winning streak since a 12-game run from Feb. 26-March 19, 2005. ... Josh Howard made his season debut for the Wizards after recovering from surgery on a torn ligament in his left knee. He played 22 minutes off the bench and scored 13 points.