With a couple of their top scorers banged-up, the Miami Heat have stepped up on defense to compensate.
The Heat look to keep relying on that successful strategy when they take on the lowly Washington Wizards for the third time this season Wednesday night.
Miami (24-19) moved a season-best five games over .500 with another outstanding defensive effort Monday, holding Atlanta without a field goal for nearly 13 1/2 minutes in the first half of a 95-79 win.
Marion has missed three of the last four games with a strained left groin, and his status for Wednesday is uncertain. The veteran forward started last Wednesday against Boston, but departed after playing the first 8 minutes and didn’t return.
Marion is averaging 12.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Beasley left Monday’s contest after banging knees with Hawks forward Josh Smith in the second quarter. Miami is calling the injury a bruise, and the team’s second-leading scorer expects to play against the Wizards.
Beasley wears knee pads in practice due to team policy but hasn’t put them on for games, something he says he’ll start to do.
“I didn’t want to change my routine. Think I’m going to have to now,” said Beasley, averaging 13.2 points.
Though the Heat were short-handed, they had a season-high 12 blocked shots and held the Hawks to seven assists.
They were even better against Washington (9-35) on Nov. 14, matching a season best for points allowed in a 97-77 win. In the clubs’ second matchup, Miami won 94-87 on Nov. 18.
With injuries to guard Gilbert Arenas (knee) and center Brendan Haywood (wrist), Washington has struggled offensively. The Wizards have lost 10 of 12, scoring fewer than 90 points five times during that span.
Washington is coming off one of its poorest shooting games of the season, making 39.5 percent from the field in a 103-87 loss to Phoenix on Monday night.
Jamison and Butler continue to carry the Wizards, averaging 21.0 and 20.1 points, respectively.
“I can’t ask the two forwards to do more than they do,” interim coach Ed Tapscott said. “Somebody else has got to drive the ball to the basket.”
Adding to Washington’s injury woes, starting center Andray Blatche will be sidelined two to four weeks with a strained left knee. Blatche, who became the starter because of injuries to Haywood and Etan Thomas, is averaging 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Wade had 19 points and 10 assists in Miami’s last matchup with Washington, but shot 6-for-16 and committed five turnovers.