While the Miami Heat opted to sit LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Washington Wizards seized the opportunity, recording one of their strongest offensive performances of the year in their 114-93 win Monday night at the Verizon Center.
The Heat essentially forfeited the top seed and home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs to the Indiana Pacers by sitting their star players, but Washington had no reservations about controlling the pace of the game.
“We’ve seen enough of these games where they haven’t played some of their guys and we lost,” said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman after the game. “Anytime you can get out and play… I thought the way we did from an offensive standpoint, moving forward, can’t hurt you.”
Washington led by as many as 36 points and shot 59 percent from the field. Trevor Ariza seemed to bounce back from his recent bout with the flu, leading the Wizards’ scoring with 25 points on the night. Nene and Al Harrington added 18 and 16 respectively, while Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat rounded out the double-digit club.
And, though he added just four points to the Wizards’ rout, John Wall helped maintain the pace of the game by racking up 13 assists.
“I knew it was the kind of game where I didn’t really have to score as much, and if I did, I had the opportunity to do that,” Wall said, later adding, “I feel good. I’m just excited to get the season over with and get ready for the playoffs. We know we are still fighting for a seeding spot, so the last game is pretty big for us, just like this game was. We just need to go out there and play the way we know how to play as a team, just moving the ball and have different guys score the ball and lead us in scoring.”
Washington set the tone early, shooting 70.3 percent from the field in the first half while going 10-for-16 on three-pointers before the break. But, Miami kept things close until the second quarter.
After Ray Allen’s early three put the heat up 31-29 in the quarter, Washington took command.
Martell Webster made two free baskets before Nene’s layup and Beal’s 25-footer erased the Heat’s short-lived lead.
Harrington added a couple threes midway through the quarter before Ariza sank one of his own with 4:30 left in the half. By that point, Washington was up 56-39 and showed no signs of slowing.
In the final 1:13 of the half, Trevor Booker sandwiched a Beal three-pointer with a couple jumpers to send Washington to the locker room up 70-48.
In the third quarter, Washington padded their lead, outscoring the Heat 28-17. And, they certainly seemed to enjoy doing it. In the final minute of the third quarter, Wizards fans were treated to a Nene slam and a Webster alley oop fed by Andre Miller.
Once the Wizards cruised to a 98-65 lead to end the third, it was clear they could let up some in the final12 minutes of play without putting the game on the line.
Miami outscored Washington 28-16 in the fourth, but, of course, it mattered little.
With the win under their belts, the Wizards will take on the Boston Celtics on the road Wednesday in their final regular season game.