Heat look for progress vs. Wizards

NBA Basketball

The Miami Heat have alternated losses and wins since the start of the season and enter Saturday’s game at reeling Washington in the nation’s capital seeking consistency.

The Heat, who lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals last season, have played just two games that have been decided by fewer than 10 points — a season-opening, 113-107 loss to the Orlando Magic and in their last outing, a 107-105 loss to the Boston Celtics.

In between, they’ve lost by 47 points to the Milwaukee Bucks, only to come back to beat the Bucks by 11 the next day. They’ve lost to Dallas by 10, only to follow that with a 28-point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in their next game.

“I mean, we’re to the point where we got to figure this out, before it’s too late,” Miami forward Bam Adebayo said. “We don’t want to build a habit of, ‘OK, we’ll get the next game. OK, we’ll get the next game.’ Because then we’ll look up and we’re at the eighth seed. We need to fix this situation right now.”

The Heat’s loss in Boston on Wednesday displayed their inability to play a complete game. The Heat played well for the first three quarters and entered the final period tied at 80. Miami fought back from a 10-point deficit, only to fall apart after tying the game on Goran Dragic’s 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining.

Rookie guard Payton Pritchard followed Marcus Smart’s miss and scored on a put-back with two-tenths of a second left to give Boston the win.

Jimmy Butler scored a season-high 26 points to lead the Heat, while Duncan Robinson had 16 points, and Adebayo added 15 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

Washington, which has lost six of its past eight meetings against the Heat dating to the start of the 2018 season, is coming off a 116-107 loss to the Celtics on Friday, which marked the team’s seventh loss in nine games to start the season. However, just one of the Wizards’ losses has been by double figures — a 130-120 setback to Orlando on Dec. 26.

For the second straight game, the Wizards squandered a great performance by Bradley Beal, who scored a franchise-record-tying 60 points against Philadelphia on Wednesday in which Washington trailed by 15 at halftime and their comeback came up short.

On Friday, Beal scored 41 against the Celtics, who led by 28 points with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter. The Wizards trimmed the lead to four in the fourth quarter before the Celtics put the game away.

Beal, who entered Friday’s game averaging a league-leading 34.3 points per game, has gotten off to a great start as has his backcourt teammate, Russell Westbrook, who averaged 20.5 points and 10.7 rebounds and a league-leading 11.8 assists per game before posting 12 points, eight assists and four rebounds against the Celtics.

Beal, however, is more concerned with the scoreboard than the stat sheet.

“I’m pissed off. I’m mad,” Beal told The Washington Post after tying Gilbert Arenas’ team-record, which he set in December 2006. “I don’t count any of my career highs that have been losses, so I don’t give a damn. Throw ’em out with the water with the other two or three I had. I just want to win, you know? Sometimes that forces me to score 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win, whatever that looks like. Came up short tonight, but we’ve just got to keep at it. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”

–Field Level Media

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