Wizards Go Up Big, Hang On Late For Win Over Heat
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards had a 34-point lead against the Miami Heat reduced to single digits Wednesday night before holding on for a 114-97 victory in Greg Oden’s first game in more than four years.
John Wall scored 25 points, and Bradley Beal and Nene had 19 apiece to lead seven players in double figures for the Wizards, who shot a season-high 55 percent and closed the game with a 17-9 run to avoid an second straight embarrassing collapse at home. They had lost seven of eight at the Verizon Center, having blown a lead to the Houston Rockets on Saturday in a game twice delayed because water was leaking onto the court through a hole in the roof.
Chris Bosh scored 26 points, and LeBron James had 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four turnovers for the Heat, who have dropped three straight, all on the road. Because the comeback wasn’t completed, the historic moment of the game came when Oden stepped onto the court for his first regular-season game since Dec. 5, 2009.
Oden, who has struggled to overcome knee injuries throughout his NBA career, played nine minutes and scored six points.
The Heat had been off since Friday, giving them time to be feted by President Barack Obama on Tuesday for winning a second consecutive NBA title. For one half, the Wizards made Miami look like a team that will never again be invited to the White House.
Washington went on a 20-0 run in the first quarter. Miami went 6:31 without a point. James had three of the Heat’s six first-quarter turnovers. The Wizards, with their first sellout crowd of the season, taunted the Heat fans in attendance with the “Bandwagon Cam” that mocked those wearing the visitor’s colors. Washington didn’t even commit a foul until the 8:48 mark of the second quarter.
The Wizards led 43-18 after the first quarter and pushed the lead to 64-30 before Oden, of all people, started the Heat comeback. Still, the score was 69-48 at the half — the most points Washington had scored in the first half this season as well as the most allowed by Miami.
Wearing No. 20 and with both knees heavily wrapped, Oden entered with 6:03 remaining in the first half and made an immediate impact: He had an offensive rebound, a dunk and a foul in his first 30 seconds. By halftime, he had played five minutes and was 2 for 2 from the field — both dunks — and 2 for 2 from the free-throw line with a pair of rebounds. He also started the second half and played four minutes before sitting for the rest of the game.
It was Oden’s first appearance in a regular-season game since fracturing his left kneecap while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Rockets. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft also missed what would have been his rookie year because of a right knee injury. He has had three microfracture surgeries on his knees.
Norris Cole’s fast-break layup with 3:42 remaining in the third quarter made the score 84-66, putting the Heat deficit under 20 for the first time since late in the first quarter. Cole was also the one who got it down to single digits with a jumper than made it 84-75 with less than a minute to go in the third.
But Miami never got closer than nine. An alley-oop from Wall to Martell Webster for a dunk put Washington up by 17 with 3:02 to play.
NOTES: The Wizards began the day 1-14 against teams with winning records. … The Heat hadn’t lost three in row since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. Their last regular-season three-game skid was Jan. 10-13, 2012. … Had the Heat won, it would have been the largest NBA comeback since Sacramento trailed by 35 before beating Chicago on Dec. 21, 2009. … The loss ended the Heat’s 22-game winning streak vs. Southeast Division opponents. … Miami played without F Chris Andersen, who “landed awkwardly on his knee,” according to coach Erik Spoelstra. Also out was G Mario Chalmers, who missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained right Achilles. F Shane Battier was in the starting lineup after missing five games with a strained left quadriceps. G Dwyane Wade was back after resting his sore knees for one game.
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