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Heat handles Bullets, 111-107

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MIAMI -- The Washington Bullets had big men Juwan Howard and Chris Webber scoring 57 points on the inside. They had Scott Skiles adding 19 on the outside.

But they had no answer for Miami Heat point guards Khalid Reeves and Bimbo Coles, who took the game -- and the Bullets' shot at stopping what now is a six-game losing streak -- in the final minutes.

Reeves swished two three-pointers and Coles had a season-high 25 points and a key steal and two free throws late, as the Heat won going away, 111-107, last night at Miami Arena.

Another key was free throws. The Bullets struggled (23-for-39), especially their front court -- Howard, Webber and Anthony Tucker combined to make 13 of 26. Miami's Glen Rice, on the other hand, was 15-for-15 as the Heat went 38-for-45.

"Reeves hit those two threes and that was just key," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "[And] that's not indicative of how we shoot free throws."

Reeves' first three-pointer immediately answered one from Skiles with 3:52 remaining for a 99-95 Heat lead, and his bomb two minutes later made it 104-99. Then, with 34 seconds remaining and the Heat clinging to a 106-101 lead, Coles stepped in front of a Skiles pass for Mitchell Butler and was fouled. His free throws sent most of the smallish crowd of 14,279 home.

The final minutes were intense, but the night's best drama came midway through the third quarter, when two of the biggest men in the NBA began barking at each other and had to be restrained. Had the Bullets' 6-foot-10, 250-pound Webber and 7-0, 240-pound Kevin Wilis of the Heat gone at it, Miami Arena would have seen its best fight of the year -- regardless of its other tenant, the NHL's Florida Panthers.

Until the Webber-Willis tiff midway through the third quarter, the Bullets-Heat game was of the close-but-passionless variety.

After Webber and Willis were done talking, double technicals were called, and play resumed with the Heat leading, 66-63. One possession later, Webber rejected a Willis dunk attempt and the barking resumed -- until Lynam was whistled for a technical after Webber was called for a flagrant foul on the block. Glen Rice and Willis each converted one of two free throws, and Rice's long jumper moments later pushed the Heat lead to 71-66.

Reserves kept the Bullets in it early in the fourth period as Doug Overton, Mitchell Butler and Tucker contributed baskets, as Washington stayed within three points, 91-88. Howard and Webber then got into it, teaming for an alley-oop (Howard to Webber) in between one power basket from each.

That's when Skiles and Reeves traded three-pointers, and Reeves and Coles took over.

The loss obscured big efforts from Howard and Webber, each of whom nearly posted a triple-double.

Webber fouled out with eight seconds remaining, but not before posting season highs of 26 points and 11 assists and eight rebounds. Howard had a season-high 31 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Howard and Webber dominated the first half as much as two players can, but received so little help from the rest of the Bullets that the Heat was able to take a 57-55 lead into halftime.

BTC Howard had 21 points after two quarters on 9-for-13 shooting from the floor.

Washington ..31 ..24 ..20 ..32 ..-- ..107

Miami .. .. .30 ..27 ..26 ..28 ..-- ..111

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