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Heat come up short against Wizards 105-103 as home woes continue

Ira Winderman
Contact ReporterSouth Florida Sun Sentinel
Heat come up short a finish against Wizards

This did not have the look of a team that entered 4-8 at home, coming off a home humiliation at the hands of the going-nowhere Utah Jazz.

This also did not have the look of a team that lost the previous matchup between these teams by 21 points.

It also, ultimately, did not have the look of a victory.

The Miami Heat took a step forward Friday night amid the injury absence of Chris Bosh, but it wasn't enough of a stride, falling 105-103 to the Washington Wizards.

"It really just came down to them making more plays at the end than we did," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Both teams had chances at it.

"It hurts. There wasn't a whole lot to say to the team.

"Guys did play well. They competed."

Ultimately, it added up to the Heat's eighth loss in their last nine appearances at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"Obviously that's tough to lose that at the end," Spoelstra said.

The home swoon continues, with guard John Wall playing as closer for Washington, closing with 20 points and 10 assists.

Wall's play, combined with a critical late offensive foul and turnover by Dwyane Wade was enough to offset 28 points from Wade and an energetic contribution from Heat backup center Hassan Whiteside.

"We're taking steps forward." Wade said. "It's just not the steps that our fans and we're used to in this organization."

The reality is a 12-15 record, assured of a losing record when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come visiting on Christmas.

"Guys played a good game," Wade said. "We couldn't ask for a better game,

"This one hurts. I will take this one and put it on my shoulders. I have to do better for these guys."

On a night Spoelstra mixed and matched his available players, including a shift of Mario Chalmers back into the starting lineup, the Heat looked far sharper than in recent home games, especially the dreary 105-87 Wednesday loss to the Jazz that opened this seven-game homestand.

Of starting Chalmers at point guard ahead of Norris Cole, who previously only had played as a starter this season, Spoelstra said, "Just to go with something different. We'll try to hold the fort until C.B. comes back, but we wanted to get 'Rio going."

This time Whiteside was given the opportunity to put his considerable length to use and he made the most of his opportunity, making all three of his shots and grabbing seven rebounds in 16 foul-filled minutes.

"That's a bright spot," Spoelstra said of Whiteside, "because he's been working extremely hard."

This time Luol Deng stepped up in support of Wade with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

This time Udonis Haslem made a difference off the bench, making all five of his shots.

But with Bosh and  power forward Josh McRoberts out, the Heat ultimately did not have enough against a team that won the teams' previous meeting 107-86 in Washington.

The Heat went into the fourth quarter up 79-76, having entered the night 11-0 when leading after three periods.

This time, though, they couldn't finish.

"It's a tough one to lose," Wade said. "We will bounce back."

A Wall layup in transition tied it 95-95 tie with 2:35 left, with neither team leading by more than eight to that stage.

From there, Cole and Wizards forward Paul Pierce each missed 3-pointers.

Later, a tip-in by Pierce and the offensive foul by Chalmers left the Wizards in possession up 97-95 with 1:23 to play. Wall then followed with a 20-foot jumper with 61 seconds left to put Washington up 99-95.

Wade countered with 55.4 seconds left with a driving floater that drew the Heat within 99-97.

But that's when Wall put his head down and his speed to the test, drawing a foul on Chris Andersen with 33.8 seconds left.

At 6 of 6 from the line to that stage, Wall made only the second attempt to put the Wizards up 100-97.

With only one timeout left, the Heat played on, but Wade hit the back iron with a floater, forcing the Heat to foul with 19.4 seconds left.

But even after the Wizards moved ahead by four, Wade drained a 3-pointer to draw the Heat within 101-100, with the Heat then sending Beal to the line with 11 second left, out of timeouts.

Beal made both free throws for a 103-100 lead.

Wade turned the ball over on the other end, and that was that.

Nothing more than more home misery.

Despite shooting .647 in the first half, the Heat were able to only take a 55-54 lead into the intermission, due to 10 first-half turnovers, including three in the second period by Cole.

The Heat shot 12 of 15 in the second period, with the only three misses coming from Wade.

Opening at starting point guard, Chalmers led the Heat with 12 first-half points, with the Heat getting nine off the bench from Haslem in the first half, as well as a burst of energy from Whiteside in the second period.

Whiteside then played as the first big man off the bench in the second half, ahead of Haslem and Justin Hamilton.

"He played great," Wade said of Whiteside. "We've been waiting to get him an opportunity."

The Heat trailed 29-25 at the end of the opening period, which could have been worse, considering Wade, coming off his 42-point performance Wednesday against Utah, was scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting in the first quarter.

The Heat came out with their 12th starting lineup of the season, this time with Andersen at center, Shawne Williams at power forward and Chalmers at point guard.

Of opening with Williams and Andersen, Spoelstra said, "It's a tandem that's been effective for us in practice."

Coupled with Wednesday's game, it gave Andersen multiple starts in the same season for the first time since he played for the Hornets in 2005-06.

"Bird had a great game with his energy and effort," Wade said.

For Norris Cole, it was the first time he did not start at point guard this season when available.

iwinderman@tribpub.com. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat or facebook.com/ira.winderman.

 

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