7:00 PM ET, January 15, 2014
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
WASHINGTON -- Raise your hand if you had Greg Oden as the Miami Heat MVP. Or if you had any inkling the Washington Wizards were capable of taking a 34-point lead against the two-time defending champs.
Or if you thought LeBron James and Co. would follow a White House visit by dropping their third straight against the heart of the middling Eastern Conference.
Oden played his first game in more than four years Wednesday night, and that might have been the only positive for the Heat. He played all of 8 minutes, 24 seconds and made a pair of dunks to help start a rally that had loads of promise -- until it fell flat in the fourth quarter of a 114-97 loss to the Wizards on Wednesday night.
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The Heat may have lost their third straight, but the return of Greg Oden was a winner, writes Tom Haberstroh. Heat Index
"They came here, whatever. Went to the White House, whatever," Wizards forward Nene said. "We just came here to play."
John Wall scored 25 points, and Bradley Beal and Nene had 19 apiece to lead seven players in double figures for the Wizards, who had their lead cut to nine before closing with a 17-9 run. They had dropped seven of eight at the Verizon Center, having blown a fourth-quarter lead to the Houston Rockets on Saturday in a game twice delayed because water was leaking onto the court through a hole in the roof.
Chris Bosh scored 26 points, and James had 25 for the Heat, who had been off since Friday and therefore had time to be feted by President Barack Obama on Tuesday for winning a second consecutive NBA title. For one half, the Wizards made Miami look like a team that will never again be invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington went on a 20-0 run in the first quarter. James had three of the Heat's six first-quarter turnovers. The Wizards, with their first sellout crowd of the season, taunted the Heat fans in attendance with the "Bandwagon Cam" that mocked those wearing the visitor's colors. Washington didn't even commit a foul until the 8:48 mark of the second quarter.
"They was playing at another speed," James said. "They was playing at, like, 15 and we was playing at, like, seven."
James paused, then corrected himself.
"Don't even gonna give us that much of a credit," he added. "We was playing at, like, five."
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James said he even lost his voice during the second or third quarter. He was still hoarse after the game.
"We love adversity more than anything. We're definitely at that point," he said with a smile as his voice cracked. "As you can tell, my damn voice is gone. I gotta try to find it, too."
At least the Heat found Oden, who stepped onto the court for his first regular-season game since Dec. 5, 2009. He scored six points, going 2 for 3 from the field with a pair of dunks. He made both of his free throws and grabbed two rebounds.
It was Oden, of all people, who helped get the Heat going after the Wizards led 43-18 at the end of the first quarter and 64-30 during the second. Wearing No. 20 and with both knees heavily wrapped, he entered with 6:03 remaining in the first half and made an immediate impact: an offensive rebound, a dunk and a foul in 30 seconds.
By halftime, the score was 69-48. Oden also started the second half and played four minutes before sitting for the rest of the game.
"In a short amount of minutes tonight," James said, "he was pretty good for us."
It was Oden's first appearance in a regular-season game since fracturing his left kneecap while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Rockets. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft also missed what would have been his rookie year because of a right knee injury. He has had three microfracture surgeries on his knees.
Oden said the Heat have "come up with something to keep me playing, not just to get me out there and get injured."
"So this is the plan and it's got me this far," he said. "It got me in the game."
Norris Cole's jumper pulled the Heat within single digits -- 84-75 -- with less than a minute to go in the third, but they never got any closer than nine. The Wizards had nine turnovers in the third quarter but only one in the fourth, and an alley-oop from Wall to Martell Webster put Washington up by 17 with 3:02 to play.
"We knew they were going to make a run," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "That's still the best team."
The Wizards began the day 1-14 against teams with winning records. ... The Heat hadn't lost three in row since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. Their last regular-season three-game skid was Jan. 10-13, 2012. ... The loss ended the Heat's 22-game winning streak vs. Southeast Division opponents. ... Miami played without F Chris Andersen, who "landed awkwardly on his knee," according to coach Erik Spoelstra. G Mario Chalmers (strained right Achilles) missed his fourth straight. F Shane Battier was in the starting lineup after missing five games with a strained left quadriceps. G Dwyane Wade was back after resting his sore knees for one game. ... Washington shot a season-high 55 percent.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 15: Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat stand during the national anthem...(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: John Wall scored 25 points, notched nine assists, and when the game was in question late in the fourth, the "Game Changer" drew fouls on Norris Cole, found Nene for a poster slam over LeBron James, and iced it with a shimmy-shaking jumper.
That was ... due. Coming into the matchup with Miami, Washington had only one win against a team with a record over .500. And they've heard about it. That their second came against a suddenly mortal Heat team will do wonders for the team's confidence.
X factor: Experience. The Wizards scored 69 points before halftime, and the Heat looked like they were on malfunctioning autopilot. But coasting is a double-edged sword, and the Heat's slow, steady comeback brought them within single digits before the sprinting Wizards crossed the finish line.
Next 5 Games
Wizards scored 69 points in the first half vs the Heat, the 2nd-most first-half points allowed by the Heat in the Big 3 era.
The Heat trailed by as many as 34 points against the Wizards in the first half, their largest deficit of the season (at any point in the game) and their 2nd-largest in any game in the Big 3 era (largest was 38 vs Wizards on April 26, 2012).
The Miami Heat allowed a season-high 28 fastbreak points Wednesday. Entering the game they were allowing 11 fastbreak points per game this season.
Maybe it's the Heat defense that is coasting, since their last meeting with Indiana on December 18th they have the worst field goal percentage defense in the NBA, and 5th-worst defensive efficiency. Their defense ranked 6th in efficiency during their first 26 games.[+]
Heat Defense This Season
Although LeBron James had more touches (78) and field goal attempts (18) against the Wizards than his season averages (73.6 touches per game and 16.1 FGA per game), he drove to the basket only three times (Season Average: 6.6 drives per game).
- James took nine shots from 15 feet or beyond, three more than his season average. He made only one of those nine shots, a season-low 11 percent (Min. 5 FGA at that distance).
*Credit season average on touches and drives to player-tracking data on NBA.com
While LeBron James has us all anticipating a big game from him tonight, don't expect a big night from Wizards star John Wall. In 7 games vs the Heat, Wall is averaging 12.7 PPG, his 2nd-fewest against any team in his career.[+]
John Wall Fewest PPG vs Team - Career
So just for fun, let's look at LeBron James' single-game career highs... His best scoring game was 56 points in 2005. His most assists in a game are 16, while his rebounding high is 19. His best plus-minus is +39.[+]
James Single-Game Career Highs
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