The Wizards had to make some adjustments tonight as they played on the Miami streets without Bradley Beal, Monte Morris and Rui Hachimura. They fell far behind in the first half, but a great spurt early in the second half and a strong goal-scoring effort from Kyle Kuzma (33 points) got them back into the game. Unfortunately, the Heat had all the answers at the track, and the Wizards couldn’t take the lead. Final score: Heat 113, Wizards 105.
Jordan Goodwin was getting his first career start, and Washington looked good right away. The ball moved offensively, important teammates came on early and were able to take the lead 11:2. After that brief burst to start the game, the Heat settled back into their zone and — just like he did in last week’s matchup — Kyle Lowry caught fire.
Late in the first quarter, the Heat went on a 19-6 run and carried that momentum into the second frame, breaking the game wide open. By the middle of the second quarter, the Heat had extended their lead to 17 points. Lowry had 22 points of his own on 7-of-8 shots from the field and 5-of-5 shots from deep.
The Wizards were down 60-43 at halftime and were looking for the same effectiveness with which they opened the game. Her offense was stagnant. They lost the battle of the boards. And the worst part was that they turned the ball over too much.
The Heat made a couple of threes in the first two minutes of the third quarter and extended their lead to 21, but after that the Wizards reversed the script. They looked like a completely new and rejuvenated team.
“I thought we beat most of the first half,” said Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. “The difference in our aim, a little bit more courage, toughness in that second half changed the game.”
Porzingis was huge, scoring 13 points in the third quarter and looking like the Porzingis Wizards fans they’ve come to know and love over the past few weeks. He finished the game with 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field, plus nine rebounds and four assists.
Will Barton was another guy who showed up and helped the Wizards get back in the game. He was phenomenal off the bench, scoring 13 points on 5-of-10 shots from the field, along with seven assists, seven rebounds and a steal. It was one of the best all-around games of the season for Barton, who drilled a three in the third quarter with seconds remaining to pull the roster to three.
And of course, at 8:15 in the fourth quarter, it was a Barton three-ball that gave the Wizards their first lead since the first quarter.
The last period was full of high-level basketball. The shots were unreal from both teams. Kuzma scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter, bringing his total to 33 that night. He also nabbed seven rebounds.
A big part of the Wizards’ success in returning to the game was Deni Avdija. He often played in the middle of the zone, finding open spaces and acting as a zone buster. He finished the night with a near-triple-double for 12 points total, a career-high 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Ultimately, Tyler Herro had the last laugh. He hit four deep balls for the Heat in the fourth quarter – too much for the Wizards to overcome. Nonetheless, it was a valiant effort by an understaffed Wizards team on the road in a difficult atmosphere.
Next up for the Wizards is their third matchup in a week against the Heat in Miami on Friday.