Wizards 114 – Heat 93
April 14, 2014
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
The Wizards are a winning team and DC news outlets just can’t handle it.
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 15, 2014
With LeBron and Chris Bosh sitting, it wasn’t much of a surprise to Wizards fans that the hometown team (despite who the fans in the Phone Booth incessantly think is the home team) laid a whooping on the defending World Champions in a 114-93 victory.
Both teams came out of the gate in a track meet style going shot-for-shot before the Wizards began to pull away in the 2nd quarter after scoring a ridiculous 43 points. From then on, it was all Wizards as Trevor Ariza led the playoff-bound Wizards with a 25-point, 10-for-13 shooting night.
Randy ended up playing Nene 24 minutes, the most since his return from injury. There were a lot of feathers ruffled on #WizardsTwitter about this last night, but the fact still remains that he is trying to get his legs under him before the playoffs and this was probably the best opportunity to do so, playing through the halfway point of the 4th quarter despite the Wizards having a 30-point lead.
What was surprising was the fact that in a night where the Wizards put up 114 points, John Wall only accounted for four of them; and for once, it wasn’t because he had a bad night. Wall was dishing out the points to his teammates, ending the night with 13 assists. Veteran Al Harrington also seemed to finally get things going for himself as he went for 16 points and 4-for-6 from 3.
It’s not a bad night when Washington beats the Heat, but it certainly makes it even better when they end up on the number 2 play of the Top 10 off an Andre Miller full-court outlet pass to a streaking Bradley Beal for an and-one. The taste of sweet victory could have only been made better with a Hawks victory, but unfortunately for fans (and for starters), the Wizards playoff seed will still remain to be decided tomorrow night versus Boston.
Trevor Ariza – 25 points, 10-13 FG, 3 steals
Okay, Trevor is finally over whatever ailment has been keeping him from producing the past couple of weeks. He came out hot from the jump, sinking three-ball after three-ball and ending up 5-8 from long distance on the night.
Ariza was in true playoff form last night and it is definitely a breath of fresh air to see his struggles subsiding as we are now four days from the beginning of the postseason.
Also notable was his handling of Dwayne Wade on defense. He essentially shut Wade, Miami’s only superstar on the court, down the entire night. Wade ended up with only 9 points on 4-9 shooting. Should the Wizards meet the Heat in the first round (or dare I say second or conference finals), this is going to be a huge factor in keeping up with them, and Ariza is showing that he’s going to be up for this challenge.
A forgettable night for:
Shooters at the free throw line
I refuse to give any member of this team the LVP because this was a complete team victory in which no one stood out as having a bad night. What was (and has been) an issue was the free throw shooting once again.
While thankfully it did not matter in last night’s blowout, this team has got to get its free chances together in the postseason. There have been too many games this season given away at the free throw line and this could have been another had the offense not been as fluid as it was.
Should the Wizards see Toronto in the first round, you’ve got to expect to get hacked going to the rim, so these easy buckets are going to be crucial for any sort of success in the playoffs.
Key stat of the game:
Al Harrington’s 16 pts (6-8 FG, 4-6 3-PT)
While it may not appear to be a huge factor in the game, Al Harrington finally got his shot going against the Heat last night. A few weeks back after a missed dunk and an airball from three-point range, Harrington said that he wasn’t worried because once he gets his shot going, it’s going to be smooth sailing from there.
Well…it got going and it got going quickly last night. This is going to be a huge factor for the Wizards in the postseason as his veteran playoff experience is going to help this team when the undeniable shell-shock of the playoffs hits the younger players. The bench has been a huge story all season and with Harrington, Gooden and Miller playing as good as ever, you’ve got to feel good about letting the bench get some burn when the intensity of the postseason begins to get to the young playoff virgins.