Didn't matter. The Miami Heat still won with ease.
Wade overcame a poor start to score 20 points, O'Neal added 19
points in 26 foul-plagued minutes and the Heat defeated Washington
105-86 Sunday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal
"I think it was just being out of our rhythm," Wade said. "We
didn't go for the jugular."
The Heat's depth was a key factor, with Miami's reserves
outscoring Washington's 36-5.
Keyon Dooling had 15 points, Eddie Jones scored 12 and Damon
Jones 10 for the Heat, who've won five straight playoff games for
the first time in franchise history and are 5-0 against Washington
"Everybody's main focus is Dwyane and Shaq anyway," said
Dooling, who was 6-for-9 on his 25th birthday and is 20-for-26 in
his last four games. "So there's going to be shots and
opportunities for everyone else."
Deadpanned Wizards coach Eddie Jordan: "We gave them a run for
their money, 36-5. We always have an 'X' factor. Today we had a 'Z'
factor -- zero."
Gilbert Arenas had 25 points on 8-for-21 shooting for
Washington. Larry Hughes added 23, Antawn Jamison had 13 before
leaving in the fourth quarter with a sore right knee, and Jared
Jeffries and Brendan Haywood added 10 apiece. Etan Thomas, with
five points, was the only Washington reserve to score.
Game 2 is Tuesday night, with the Wizards looking to snap a
nine-game losing streak against the Heat.
"We have a locker room of guys that love the challenge,"
Hughes said. "We've been down. We don't feel like we're out. We
feel like we can win a basketball game any given day we step out
For a while, it seemed this might be one of those winning days
for the Wizards.
Miami's 17-point lead was trimmed to one early in the third
quarter, but the Heat never lost the lead -- and Wade got rolling
just in time. He had 11 points and four assists in the third
quarter and keyed a 14-3 run to end the period that pushed Miami's
lead to 82-64.
"I look at the first half and the second half as two different
games," said Wade, who had five points and four turnovers in the
first half, 15 points and no turnovers in the second half. "The
first half was the first game. I didn't do well. The second half, I
came out and tried to be a little more aggressive."
Despite Wade's early struggles, the Heat -- who hadn't played
since finishing off a first-round sweep of New Jersey last Sunday --
Washington missed 17 of 19 shots during one early stretch,
finishing the first quarter 5-for-23 to trail 26-18. In the
quarter, Miami was 0-for-4 from 3-point range and 2-for-5 from the
line. O'Neal missed a dunk and Wade -- who missed eight of his first
10 shots -- managed only four points.
Miami hit five of its first seven shots in the second quarter
and seemed poised to turn the game into a rout. Rasual Butler's
3-pointer from the right wing with 7:27 left in the half capped a
9-0 run that pushed Miami's lead to 39-22.
Jordan called a timeout, and whatever he said worked.
Washington scored the next 11 points, including a pair of tough
shots around the basket by Jamison and a 3-pointer by Arenas. The
Wizards turned Miami's seven second-quarter turnovers into 11
points and ended the half on a 6-0 spurt, pulling to 49-47 at the
"Washington made a lot of comebacks throughout the year," Heat
coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Eddie does a great job when things are
going bad. They change their defenses, the pick up their energy
level. ... Against a team like Washington, you've really got to
stay the course. You need a 48-minute effort."
Haywood's three-point play with 11:15 left in the third quarter
drew Washington to 51-50, but the Wizards never took the lead.
Miami soon pulled away again, this time for good.
"We've just got to make shots," Haywood said. "You can't work
40 percent and beat the Heat."
Seven straight Miami points -- a 3-pointer and layup from Damon
Jones sandwiched around a jumper by Eddie Jones -- pushed the lead
to 58-50. The Wizards never made another serious run.
"There's one thing that's guaranteed," Jordan said. "We've
got two games here, and two in Washington. We'll see where it
O'Neal did not speak with reporters after the game. ...
Wizards F Michael Ruffin played 19 minutes, fouled out, and didn't
take a single shot. ... The arena was evacuated five hours before
tip-off following the spotting of a suspicious package. The package
held lighting equipment stolen from a TV crew and was detonated by
police, Heat officials said. Arena operations were normal before
gates opened. ... Jamison's knee is "a concern right now for us,"
Jordan said. ... It took 89 seconds for fans to start chanting
"M-V-P" to O'Neal after tip-off. Phoenix's Steve Nash was named
the league's Most Valuable Player on Sunday.