Washington (12-6) at Miami (15-7)

Fair Currently: Miami, FL
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Mon Dec 13, 2004
  • TV: NC8, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Washington Wizards have had little trouble beating the lower echelon teams in the NBA.

The Wizards will be put to the test as they begin a home-and-home series against Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Washington has won nine of its last 11 games, but none of the victories have come against teams with winning records over that span.

Miami has won four straight to improve to 15-7 on the season and take over first place in the competitive Southeast Division. The Heat, Wizards and Orlando Magic are separated by only a game in division standings.

Gilbert Arenas had a season-high six of Washington’s season-high 20 steals in an 88-69 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday. The Hornets have the NBA’s worst record at 1-18.

Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood both scored 17 points to pace the Wizards, who lead the league in steals. Arenas added 16 points and six assists.

Kwame Brown, who returned to the Wizards after serving a one-game club suspension, finished with six points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. He was suspended for refusing to join the huddle during a timeout in Wednesday’s loss to Denver.

“It’s a luxury to have big Haywood and then have Kwame come in and be physical,” Jamison said. “What he brings offensively and defensively is something that we definitely need. We’re ready to go on a West Coast trip and we’re going to need his tough play on both sides of the ball.”

The Wizards embark on a five-game road trip after completing the home-and-home on Wednesday.

First, Haywood and Brown will have the difficult task of trying to contain O’Neal on Monday.

O’Neal had 20 points and Dwyane Wade added 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Heat beat the Toronto Raptors 106-98 on Sunday.

O’Neal is averaging a career-low 20.1 points per game, but the 7-foot center is still making his presence felt on the boards with 11.1 rebounds a game.

Wade leads Miami with 23.8 points and 7.5 assists per game. He scored 37 points and handed out a career-high 12 assists as the Heat beat the Wizards 118-106 in their first meeting on Nov. 6.

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