Wizards' balance too much for out-of-sync Wade, Heat

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pat Riley did what he could to find a silver lining to the dark cloud hanging over his Miami Heat.

The injuries and losses are accumulating quickly for the Heat, who trailed by as many as 30 points Saturday night and were held to their lowest total of the season in a 96-74 loss to the Washington Wizards.

"One positive point about tonight's game is that this is the last game of 2007. It's been a bad year," Riley said after Miami's fourth consecutive defeat dropped it to 39-48 during the soon-to-end calendar year. "Hopefully, with the start of the new year, things will change -- if we get healthy."

A weary Dwyane Wade had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (five) and finished with only 12 points, while injured starters Shaquille O'Neal (hip) and Jason Williams (left knee) didn't even make the trip.

"They played well. We didn't; turned the ball over a lot," said Wade, who sat out the final 18 1/2 minutes. "It's a sign of the way things are going for us."

Washington is without its share of key players, too -- most notably All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas and Antonio Daniels -- but has adjusted well. Andray Blatche led a balanced offense with 18 points, and Caron Butler scored 16.

"You always want to beat teams with a full roster, but I don't lose any sleep when certain guys aren't playing on certain teams," said Antawn Jamison, who added 15 points and nine rebounds for Washington. "We made it tough for those guys early on. D-Wade had to take some tough shots early, couldn't really get in a comfort zone."

It was the lowest point total for the Heat -- or any Wizards opponent -- this season.

A night after playing 51 1/2 minutes in an overtime loss to Orlando, Wade looked sluggish at moments and ended his eight-game streak of leading Miami in scoring. This time, Ricky Davis put up 22 points for the Heat, only two seasons removed from an NBA championship yet currently last in the Eastern Conference at 8-23.

"What has to change is the belief," Riley said.

Going into this season, Miami had won 15 of 16 games against Washington, but the Wizards are 2-0 against the Heat this month.

"We have a lot of respect for them," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "But it feels good."

Washington never trailed, using a 12-0 run bridging the end of the second quarter and start of the third to take full control. The Heat went 8 1/2 minutes without making a field goal, and when that drought finally ended on Daequan Cook's running 9-foot bank shot midway through the third quarter, the Wizards were ahead 68-42.

Blatche's layup with 9 1/2 minutes left in the game gave Washington its biggest lead at 86-56. The Heat scored the next 15 points -- but they never cut the deficit smaller than 15 the rest of the way.

Both teams were short-handed, and both were playing on a second consecutive night. The Heat, though, looked far more wiped out.

In addition to O'Neal and Williams, the Heat were again without guards Chris Quinn (left ankle) and Smush Parker, who hasn't played in a month after a confrontation with a female valet parking attendant. Plus, forward Dorell Wright played less than 13 minutes Saturday before departing with a left ankle injury.

Wright hopes to play in Miami's next game, Wednesday against Milwaukee -- that's in 2008, Riley happily pointed out -- and the coach said other injured players could return that day, too.

Riley also noted: "I can't guarantee that."

Wade looked exhausted, compiling six turnovers by halftime and putting up an airball late in the second quarter.

Before the game, Riley compared his star to a champion thoroughbred -- one that's spent.

"Today he's like Secretariat. He's, like, sore. And that you're going to have to deal with. So we've been rubbing him all day, brushing him down," Riley said with a laugh. "He's going to be sore tonight. We've just got to get him loose, and we've got to be conscious of it. I think he's going to go through that for probably most of the year, until his body just totally comes back."

Game notes
Daniels missed a seventh consecutive game with a sprained ligament in his right knee. He was hurt during a victory at Miami on Dec. 13. ... Butler's second annual coat drive collected more than 1,000 jackets for children at area shelters and group homes.