By Dave Johnson
The countdown continues. Our countdown of the Wizards' top 10 games from this past season started on Monday with number 10 and January’s dramatic win in Portland. Number 9 on our list is from the first week in December and the Wizards' second week of the season.
NUMBER 9: Wizards Beat Heat:
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My game recap:
Maybe Robert Griffin III also knows how to bring out the best in the Washington Wizards. With the Redskins' rookie quarterback watching in a courtside seat at Verizon Center, the Wizards responded with an impressive 105-101 win over the Miami Heat.
RG3 can do a lot of things, but the Wizards deserve all the credit in their surprising win over a Heat team that was one win away from its best start in franchise history. Instead, the Wizards secured their third consecutive win over the Heat dating back to last season.
Wizards head coach Randy Wittman: “I told the guys, the only people that really think you have a chance tonight is us here right in this room. You guys (media) don’t believe, the outside didn’t believe, and I said we need to have a statement game. What better opportunity to come and play in front of the fans that we knew were going to be here and beat this team? They took it to heart.”
The Wizards defeated the Heat twice in the final week of the 2011/2012 season, but Dwyane Wade only played in one of the games and LeBron James was kept out of both games. This time there would be no qualifying statement attached to the Wizards' win. On this night, the Wizards were better than the defending champions.
The Heat still received a triple-double from James with a game-high 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. Wade added 24 points, while Chris Bosh delivered 20 points and 12 rebounds. Off the bench, Ray Allen and Mike Miller provided long distance threats with 11 points each. In short, it was an average night for the Heat.
The Wizards were above average. Last in the NBA in offense at roughly 89 points per game going into the contest, the Wizards scored 105 points with their most efficient and disciplined offensive performance of the season. The Wizards dished out a season high 31 assists on 38 made field goals.
The Wizards lead the NBA in bench scoring and once again the Wizards reserves provided the offensive punch. Jordan Crawford topped the Wizards with 22 points and it marked the 11th time this season a player coming off the bench either led or was tied for the team lead in scoring. Crawford has been remarkably consistent over the last four games and averaged 19 points per game.
Kevin Seraphin finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Also off the bench Martell Webster had 13 points and helped fill a defensive void when Trevor Ariza left the game in the third quarter with a left calf strain. The Wizards' bench outscored the Heat bench 64-31.
On the radio broadcast before the game, Glenn Consor and I discussed the importance of the Wizards taking care of the basketball. We believed they needed to keep their turnover number to between 15 and 20 to have a chance to win. The Wizards only turned the ball over 12 times and this prevented the Heat from enjoying life in transition. The Wizards had a 16-6 advantage in fast-break points.
The Wizards used their fifth starting lineup in 15 games against the Heat. Chris Singleton, who started 51 times last season while playing in all 66 games, received his first start of this season. As always, Singleton was tenacious on defense and finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Wittman said: "We changed our starting lineup a little bit tonight because of the situation. With them starting Rashard Lewis, I didn’t want to put Kevin (Seraphin) in a position where he’s obviously not very comfortable guarding. I’m starting to find a rotation.”
Playing with the lead:
For much of this season the Wizards have been chasing games. Against the Heat, the Wizards scored a season-high 30 points in the first quarter. In the opening 12 minutes, the Wizards attacked the basket and were 10 of 14 from the free throw line, while only going 2 of 3 beyond the arc. Offensive droughts have also plagued the Wizards all season, but in the second quarter they also scored 30 points. The 60 points for the first half was the highest scoring first and second quarters of the season. For only the third time this season, the Wizards had a lead going into the fourth quarter of play.