Whiteside carries Heat past Wizards
WASHINGTON — John Wall wished his home arena had been a bit warmer. Then perhaps his injured left knee loosened enough to help his side avoid a sluggish start. Instead, the Washington Wizards couldn’t overcome the early heat brought by Miami.
Hassan Whiteside had 22 points and 16 rebounds as the Miami Heat fended off a frenzied comeback attempt by the Washington Wizards for a 91-88 win on Friday night.
The Heat (7-8) led by as many as 25 points during a one-sided first half, but were outplayed after halftime. Miami split the home-and-home series after losing 102-93 on Wednesday.
“We had a game plan today and I felt that out of all of the games we’ve played so far, we executed the most today,” said James Johnson, who scored 20 points.
Bradley Beal scored 26 points for the Wizards (9-6), but missed a potential game-tying jumper with 2.6 seconds remaining.
That the game was even close late seemed implausible after Miami blitzed Washington for a 50-25 lead and held 21-point halftime margin as the Wizards’ stars struggled.
Wall did not make a basket until he hit a 3-pointer with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter. His second basket from beyond the arc pulled the Wizards within 86-83 with 1:10 remaining. Wall finished with eight points on 3-of-12 shooting.
The Wizards, who had won four in a row, shot 28.6 percent from the field in the first half and finished at 38.1.
Asked for explanation about the brutal first half, Wall said, “Me. I could barely move out there. I couldn’t get the team going. It kind of hurt us.”
The four-time All-Star guard said fluid in his knee bothered him and has since given IV fluids ahead of Washington’s Nov. 11 game against Atlanta. The chilly temperatures inside Capital One Arena, which is also home to the NHL’s Capitals, didn’t help, he said.
Otto Porter’s two free throws with 11.3 seconds remaining pulled the Wizards within 89-88. After Johnson hit one of two free throws with 5.8 seconds left, Washington called timeout and designed a play for Beal.
The wing guard, who scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half, received the inbounds pass, dribbled inside the arc and fired an errant step-back jumper.
“I thought it was a good look,” Beal said. “Still a debate in my head if I should have shot a 3 or went to my step-back. I’m still confident in the shot. It’s a shot I make every day.”
Johnson only scored 17 points combined in Miami’s previous three games including five in Wednesday’s loss. The Heat’s sixth-man scored 13 in the second half alone in the rematch.
“It’s just stepping up,” he said of his latest performance. “It wasn’t my character the last few games. Tonight you got to see a little glimpse of it.”
Dion Waiters had 13 for the Heat. Justise Winslow added 10 points and capped the scoring with a free throw inside the final second. Miami had lost two straight.
Washington missed its first 16 3-point tries, but finished 10-of-35 with Beal hitting five. Otto Porter scored 12 points.
Washington outscored Miami 31-19 in the fourth quarter during Wednesday’s win, snapping a five-game losing streak in the series, including all four during the 2016-17 campaign.
In that game, Wall scored 27 points and Beal 26 for the Wizards, who overcame 14 points and 21 rebounds from Whiteside. Miami’s center kept the production flowing in the rematch, causing havoc for Washington on both ends.
“Hassan came to play,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
After trailing by 11 points after the first quarter Wednesday, Miami flipped the script for a 13-point lead in the opening period Friday. Wall, Beal and Otto Porter went 0-for-8 in the first.
Beal scored 14 in the third quarter as the Wizards outscored the Heat 28-16 in the period to enter the fourth down 66-57.
NOTE: C Marcin Gortat had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards. ... The Heat and Wizards have now faced off seven times in consecutive days. Miami is 7-0 in the second game. ... Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, named the 2017 National League Cy Young Award winner on Wednesday, attended the game. ...Miami hosts the Indiana Pacers on Sunday in the second of four meetings. The Heat triumphed 112-108 on Oct. 21 for their sixth straight home win over the Pacers. ... Washington plays three consecutive road games entering Thanksgiving, starting with Sunday’s meeting at Toronto. The Wizards won the first meeting with the Raptors on the road, 107-96, on Nov. 5.