Hot Heat head to Washington
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WASHINGTON -- The Miami Heat roll into Washington on Tuesday night hot on the heels of the slumping Wizards.
While Washington, fifth in the Eastern Conference, has dropped the first three games of a four-game homestand, the seventh-place Heat have won four of five and trail the Wizards by just two games. The teams also meet Saturday in Miami.
Miami (34-30) completed a five-game homestand with a 125-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Hassan Whiteside led Miami with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks while Goran Dragic added 17 points and five assists.
"Our focus was good, you could tell just from this morning, not that it wasn't in some of these other games, but at least our approach, our mindset to understand the sense of urgency that was needed to close out this homestand," coach Erik Spoelstra told the Miami Herald.
The Heat shot 51.1 percent from the field, outrebounded the Suns 51-40 and collected 17 turnovers. Seven players scored in double-figures for Miami. Perhaps most important heading into the second of back-to-backs, only one Heat player logged more than 26 minutes.
"Going down the stretch we've got to beat the teams we're supposed to beat, just based on the records and win some of the close matchups," Whiteside said. "It was nice to be able to go through this game kind of stress free, especially with a back-to-back tomorrow night."
The Wizards (36-28) lost to the Indiana Pacers 98-95 Sunday, dropping their third straight game for the first time all season.
Washington trailed by as many as 17 points in the third quarter before rallying. They had several chances to tie the score or take the lead but could not convert.
Bradley Beal scored 22 points and added 11 assists, become just the third player other than John Wall to have 20-plus points and 10-plus assists since 2012. However, he turned the ball over on consecutive possessions late in the game and was 0-for-5 from the field in the final minutes.
With John Wall still a few weeks away from returning, Beal continues to log heavy minutes and played the whole second half Sunday.
"It's no excuse for me," Beal told the Washington Post. "Every player wants to play There's guys who wish they can play and don't play, so I can't sit here and say that I'm tired. If I'm on the floor, I got to produce, and it's just plain and simple John's out. That's reality. And I have to step up more."
Otto Porter tallied 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting in the game, and has had at least 15 points in 14 of the 16 games since Jan. 27.
Washington continues to struggle with turnovers, committing 14 against the Pacers.
"You have points in the season, especially down the stretch where you can't afford stuff like that because we're playing high quality teams," Washington's Jodie Meeks said. "Every game right now is kind of like a playoff game. So, it's going to be close and we've got to do a good job of taking care of the ball."
Miami and Washington played twice in mid-November with the Wizards winning 102-93 in Miami and the Heat avenging the loss two days later with a 91-86 win in Washington.
Whereas passing Cleveland possibly Boston was on the Wizards' radar a week ago, now they need to worry about teams behind them like Philadelphia, Miami and Milwaukee.
"We still got an opportunity to be two and jump those teams," Beal said. "We gotta take advantage of our schedule. Tuesday is definitely a must win for us, that's another hungry team coming in here, so we gotta be ready to go."
Updated March 6, 2018