The Miami Heat did nothing in their latest game to dispel the notion that they can’t keep up with the NBA’s other top teams.
When facing the league’s bottom feeders, however, they’ve been nearly unstoppable.
The Heat look to bounce back Friday night by picking up an 11th straight win over a sub-.500 opponent when they host the Washington Wizards, who seem to have little hope of avoiding a 28th loss in 29 road games.
Miami (42-16) came out of the All-Star break clicking on all cylinders in a 117-97 rout of Sacramento, a victory that improved the Southeast Division leaders to 30-2 against teams that currently have losing records.
That set up a showdown of division leaders Thursday at Chicago, but the Heat again came up short against one of their top-flight peers. Miami led by nine at halftime but was outscored 27-14 in the third quarter and outrebounded 53-39 for the game in a 93-89 loss.
While LeBron James(notes) and Dwyane Wade(notes) combined for 63 points on 24-of-45 shooting, Chris Bosh(notes) missed 17 of his 18 field-goal attempts - the worst individual shooting performance the league had seen since Tim Hardaway went 0 for 17 for Golden State against Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1991.
The Heat fell to 1-7 against the league’s other five teams with at least 39 victories.
“It makes it frustrating just knowing that if I would have made two or three of them in a close game like that it would have made a difference,” Bosh said.
Bosh is facing the right team to bounce back. The Wizards allow their opponents to shoot a league-best 49.1 percent on the road, and Bosh’s average of 25.4 points versus Washington since 2005-06 is his best against any Eastern Conference club.
The Wizards (15-41) are the last sub-.500 opponent Miami will see for a while. Starting with Sunday’s visit from New York, the Heat will play 10 straight against teams with winning records - though eight of those are at AmericanAirlines Arena, where they’ve won six in a row and 15 of 17.
Miami beat Washington 105-94 at home Nov. 29, behind 30 points from LeBron James and 26 from Dwyane Wade.
The Heat weren’t nearly as sharp in the nation’s capital Dec. 18, rallying from a five-point deficit in the final 32.6 seconds and escaping with a 95-94 victory.
“We played a horrible basketball game,” coach Eric Spoelstra said. “… Sometimes you steal games when a team outplays you for the majority of the game.”
The Wizards finally earned a road win Feb. 13 in Cleveland, halting their skid at 25, but it’s been business as usual away from the Verizon Center since then. Washington shot 34.9 percent in a 101-76 loss at Orlando right before the All-Star break, then trailed by as many as 36 points in a 117-94 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The team had a bit of a mid-game distraction. News broke during the game that the Wizards had traded Kirk Hinrich(notes) and Hilton Armstrong(notes) to Atlanta for Mike Bibby(notes) and Jordan Crawford(notes), Maurice Evans(notes) and a first-round draft choice.
“It was a pretty tough thing to hear,” Wall said. “Kirk’s a veteran guy who taught me an awful lot about NBA basketball. I’ll really miss him. And Hilton was a good friend, too.”