WASHINGTON (AP) — With his Wizards leading the Heat by 15 after two quarters, 37-year-old Paul Pierce implored his younger teammates to put the game away.
“Well, Paul had a joke at halftime,” said point guard John Wall. “He said: ‘Let me get a rest. Let’s get it to like 25, so I can take a break.'”
Wizards coach Randy Wittman offered a simple message, too, asking his players to focus at one particular end of the court.
“I said, ‘It’s the first team that really comes in and turns the screws defensively,'” Wittman said.
Both Pierce and Wittman got what they wanted. Wall ran the offense to perfection, scoring 18 points and 13 assists, Washington held Miami to 0 for 12 on 3-point tries in the second half, and the Wizards beat the Heat 107-86 on Wednesday night.
“Probably our best game, from start to finish,” said Wittman, whose team improved to 11-5.
Rasual Butler scored 23, and Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who never trailed and led by 21 in the first half and 25 in the second.
“Whether it’s the schemes, whether it’s 1-on-1, they picked us apart,” said Chris Bosh, who led Miami with 21 points.
Dwyane Wade had 20 in his second game back from an injured right hamstring. A night earlier, Wade returned after missing seven games and scored 27 points in a victory at New York.
Wade offered a frank assessment of Miami’s failure to slow down Washington.
“I don’t think we’ve gotten to the defense we’ve wanted all year,” Wade said. “We’re still fairly new; a lot of the guys are still confused at what we’re trying to do.”
They weren’t much better on offense in the second half, shooting 32.4 percent on field-goal attempts, missing all 12 of their 3-point attempts.
The Heat came into the game leading the NBA in 3-point shooting at 38.6 percent, but they made only 9.1 percent this time, 2 for 22. They opened the game 0 for 8 on 3s, until Bosh made one with about six minutes left in the first half.
The only other successful 3-pointer for Miami was by Norris Cole with 10.9 seconds left in the first half.
“We did a good job of staying home and getting a hand in their face,” Wittman said. “They missed some, too. It wasn’t all us. They had some pretty good looks they missed.”
The Wizards went 10 for 19 on 3-pointers, including 7 for 7 while taking a 64-49 lead at halftime. That marked a season-best for a first half by Washington.
Heat: Shabazz Napier finished 0 for 5 on 3-pointers, Mario Chalmers was 0 for 4, Luol Deng and Shawne Williams were both 0 for 2, Bosh and Cole were both 1 for 3, and three players missed one attempt each.
Wizards: Washington improved to 7-2 at home. … The Wizards’ previous high point total for a first half this season was 57 points against Detroit on Nov. 12. … Nene sat out his fourth consecutive game with an injured right foot.
BUTLER’S BIG NIGHT
Butler began his career with the Heat after getting chosen in the second round of the 2002 NBA draft.
“They let him go,” Gortat observed. “What other motivation (do) you need?”
Bosh was asked what grade he’d give the Heat, who dropped to 9-8 in their first season since LeBron James departed for Cleveland.
“I don’t know. That’s not my position. I’m not a teacher. We deserve our record,” Bosh said. “I’m never legitimately concerned until you’re in a very compromising position. And we’re not in a compromising position right now. We’re just working out the kinks.
Heat: Host the Hawks on Wednesday.
Wizards: Host the Lakers on Wednesday.
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