Short-handed Wizards try to cool off Heat

NBA Basketball
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The injury-plagued Washington Wizards host the red-hot Miami Heat on Monday night.

The Heat defeated the Wizards 112-103 on Dec. 6 in their only previous meeting this season.

Heat wing Jimmy Butler had a triple-double in that game with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Miami center Bam Adebayo scored a career-high 24 points to go with 14 rebounds and four assists.

Bradley Beal scored 23 points to lead Washington. Beal, a two-time All-Star, leads the Wizards in scoring (27.8) and assists (6.7).

However, Beal missed Washington’s 107-100 loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday night due to right-knee soreness and is questionable for Monday.

“Playing without him is hard,” Wizards guard Jordan McRae said of Beal, who had played in 194 consecutive games. “If he’s not on the court, that’s 30 points we don’t have.”

Injuries have wrecked whatever hopes the Wizards had entering this season.

As expected, All-Star point guard John Wall has yet to play this season due to a torn left Achilles tendon. In addition, the Wizards on Saturday played without their top 3-point shooter Davis Bertans (quad); starting center Thomas Bryant (foot); rookie first-round pick Rui Hachimura (groin); shooting guard C.J. Miles (wrist); and center Moritz Wagner (ankle).

Miami is relatively healthy except for point forward Justise Winslow, who has played just 10 games this season, including five starts, due to his back and other ailments.

But even without Winslow, the Heat are in second place in the Eastern Conference.

On Saturday night, the host Heat knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers 117-116 in overtime as Butler nearly had another triple-double, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

“We never give up,” Butler said.

As to Butler’s point, the Heat are 6-0 in overtime games this season and 8-1 in contests decided by five points or fewer.

Miami’s offense has been clicking, scoring 100 points or more for 11 straight games. That offense starts with Butler, who leads Miami in scoring (20.5) and assists (6.7) as well as steals (2.1).

Adebayo leads Miami in rebounds (10.5) while averaging 15.6 points, 4.6 assists and 1.3 blocks. Rookie guards Kendrick Nunn (16.1 points) and Tyler Herro (13.9) have also bolstered the offense.

Starting forward Duncan Robinson leads the team in 3-pointers and is connecting on a stunning 46.5 percent from deep.

The bench brigade has been powered by point guard Goran Dragic, a former All-Star who is averaging 16.0 points and 5.1 assists.

“You want to have champions on your side, and Goran is a champion,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

The Heat, who have won five consecutive games — including two straight by one point — will face a Wizards team that hasn’t won consecutive games since Nov. 20-22.

Since then, the Wizards have posted a 4-14 record.

Washington got a boost from Gary Payton II and Isaiah Thomas in the loss to the Knicks. Thomas, just back from a two-game suspension, had 20 points. Payton, just up from the G League, had 15.

“I’m hungry for it,” Payton said of his NBA opportunity. “I’m trying to find somewhere to stick.”

–Field Level Media

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