The Washington Wizards go for a two-game sweep of the host Miami Heat when the Southeast rivals meet in a rematch Friday night.
Superior 3-point shooting and a 48-35 run in the second half proved to be the difference Wednesday night as Washington rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to hand Miami the seventh defeat in its last eight games.
Bradley Beal extended his run of 25-point games to 17 with a game-high 32 points to fuel the win. He had four 3-pointers and teamed with Deni Avdija (three) and Davis Bertans (three) for 10 treys, helping the Wizards outshoot the Heat 40.5 percent to 34.3 percent from beyond the arc and outscore them 45-36 on 3-pointers.
The Wizards won despite resting Russell Westbrook on the second night of a back-to-back. He is expected to return for the rematch.
Washington’s win allowed it to offset an earlier 128-124 home loss to Miami. Neither Beal nor Westbrook played in that game, which was dominated offensively by the Heat’s Tyler Herro with 31 points and Jimmy Butler with 26.
Herro had 20 and Butler 19 on Wednesday.
One of the difference-makers in the rematch was Avdija, who had a season-best 20 points in the first meeting with the Heat.
He began a four-game stint on the sidelines for COVID-related reasons two games later, then had only two points against Brooklyn in his return to action on Sunday.
He has followed that up with a pair of 13-point games, making 10 of his 15 shots and five of his eight 3-pointers.
“We’ve gone through a lot,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after the win. “We fought and we kept fighting, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not happy with our win total. We’re going to keep competing.”
No team has been through more than the Heat this season. They fielded their most complete roster of the season Wednesday, then saw Avery Bradley have to leave the game with a strained calf.
He is not expected to play Friday night.
Meanwhile, several others who have been out of the lineup are still attempting to find their form. The big games Wednesday by Herro, who was playing for the fourth time since a seven-game layoff, and Butler, back for a third straight after a 10-game absence, were encouraging, even in defeat.
“You just have to continue to forge ahead,” Erik Spoelstra said. “Some of us have had experience being able to turn seasons around.”
The defeat gave the defending Eastern Conference champs (7-14) more losses than the Wizards (5-13), who have resided near the bottom of the Eastern standings all season.
The game ends a six-game homestand for the Heat, who have lost four of the first five games. They are completing their fifth NBA style doubleheader of the season, having twice earlier rebounded from a first-game loss with a second-game win over Milwaukee and Detroit.
Wednesday’s win was the Wizards’ first in either game of a same-opponent, same-site sequence this year. They’d been swept by Orlando and Chicago in earlier twinbills.
–Field Level Media