Washington was without starting man Bradley Beal (bruised thigh), starting man Monte Morris (ankle pain) and backup forward Rui Hachimura (ankle pain). Given their understaffed roster, it was predictable that the Wizards would end up in a 21-point deficit.
Less expected was their impressive comeback, making it a three-point game in less than four minutes.
But Herro rattled off four threes in the fourth quarter in his first game after an ankle sprain that sidelined him since November 4 to help up the Heat.
“This one stings. This one stings,” said Kristaps Porzingis, while clapping his hands as passionately as the affable center has been since joining the Wizards. “… Every game is different. It’s hard to play against them. We played them when they had nobody – not nobody, but they didn’t have any boys, and they almost always beat us with that weird zone [defense], uncomfortable, free throw line shots they give us. Almost the same tonight.”
When the teams met less than a week ago, the Heat were missing nine players, including Herro and Bam Adebayo, who were out with a bruised knee.
On Wednesday, Herro’s threes were part of an exceptional night from beyond the arc for Miami, this time making up for just five missing rotation players – including Jimmy Butler (knee), Duncan Robinson (ankle) and Max Strus (shoulder). ) – by hitting a season high with 16 three-pointers. Point guard Kyle Lowry started the night with 5 of 5 three-pointers; Herro provided the bookend. The teams play again in Miami on Friday.
The Wizards struggled on offense and never really got going defensively. Kyle Kuzma led the Wizards with 33 points and seven rebounds. Porzingis added 21 points and nine rebounds.
Lowry had 28 and six rebounds and Caleb Martin added 24 points. Herro added 17.
“I thought we overwhelmed each other in the first half,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. “And the difference in our goal, a little bit more courage and toughness in that second half, changed the game.”
The Heat (8-11) posted a monster of a second quarter in which they bested the Wizards 32-17 and took control by owning the boards 21-9. That led to seven quick break points and a tired-looking Washington defense, especially under the rim. Adebayo scored five free throws thanks to a desperate, tired defense.
But the Wizards (10-8) regrouped after halftime and came out with renewed energy – and Adebayo and Lowry emerged drained. The Heat’s dynamic big man had just one field goal in the third quarter, Lowry didn’t score at all and Porzingis used his newfound freedom without Adebayo to score 13 points and grab two three-pointers.
Washington cut Miami’s lead to three in the fourth quarter, but the Wizards’ full-back collapsed in the final 12 minutes.
Here’s what else you should know about the loss of the wizards:
Beal, Monte Morris and Hachimura all participated in shooting Wednesday morning and were game-time deciders. Unseld said after the game he hoped the trio would be available on Friday; They’ve been covered up to game time to provide a clue.
This is the sixth game of the season Beal has missed due to injury or illness – he recently recovered from Covid-19 – and he has not played in Miami since November 18, 2021. He missed Washington’s second visit here last season because he was in the league’s health and safety protocols after testing positive.
Morris and Hachimura each missed their second game of the season.
Without Morris and Beal, two-wayer Jordan Goodwin earned his first NBA start as a point guard. The 24-year-old had a below-par night by his own standards and certainly wasn’t as productive as the Wizards needed on the starting lineup. He had eight points, three assists, a steal and a rebound, and even gave up his place in the closing group to assist Will Barton.
Barton, a backup wing, said last week he still feels at odds with the Wizards after his role shifted from that of a starter in Denver to a reserve in Washington. As a starter, he knew pretty well how many minutes he would play each night and at what time of the quarter.
He made the most of his time in Wednesday’s second session, delivering one of his best performances of the month with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as he took on an otherwise lackluster group.
Deni Avdija brought up the ball well on Wednesday, giving 10 assists and scoring 12 points. He added nine rebounds.