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Heat 103, Wizards 98

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh unavailable for the Heat, Ray Allen matched his season-high with 23 points, and Miami clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs with a 103-98 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

Rashard Lewis scored 17 points, and Shane Battier had 15 points with five 3-pointers for the Heat (62-16).

Miami made more 3-point field goals (17) than shots from inside the arc (16) and pulled away with an 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter before the sellout crowd of 20,308.

No James (sore right hamstring), Wade (sore right knee) or Bosh (flu) in the lineup meant the Heat played without any members of their starry trio for the first time this season. Udonis Haslem, who has been dealing with an ankle injury, also sat out the victory that ensured every playoff series the team participates in will begin in Miami.

"Right now it's about getting them healthy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game.

A.J. Price matched his career-high with 23 points, and John Wall had 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Wizards (29-50), who had won nine straight home games. Washington has dropped three straight overall, and it has allowed 37 3-pointers over the past two games.

James missed his fourth game of the season after scoring 28 points in 30 minutes against Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Spoelstra denied any setback occurred against the Bucks.

"Want to make sure he feels right," the coach said. "He was a little bit tight yesterday after the game. That was probably to be expected. It was the same amount of tightness he had after Saturday night's game, but we had two days off in between, so he was able to manage that. That was not the case (Wednesday) with the quick turnaround, so hopefully we can continue to get him stronger each day."

Without their top three scorers, the Heat turned into a pure 3-point shooting team, attempting 41 shots from long range. Mike Miller made four and scored 14 points, while Mario Chalmers hit four 3s en route to 13 points.

Neither side could pull away until the Heat jumped in front 85-76 during the fourth quarter. After the Wizards quickly rallied back within 87-86 with 4:59 remaining, Allen scored six straight points including his first 3-pointer of the game. Chris Anderson's two free throws capped the run, making it 98-88 with 2:52 left.

Martell Webster scored 12 points for the Wizards, but left midway through the third quarter with an abdominal strain. He did not return.

NOTES: Trevor Ariza (sore right knee) sat out his second straight game for the Wizards. ... The debate about whether teams have an obligation to play their best players when possible has been a topic throughout this NBA season. "You can argue it either way," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "I think as a coach you have to do what's best for your team. If it's your fans and you're a paying customer, you want to see them win a championship." ... James remains eight points shy of scoring 2,000 points for the seventh time in eight seasons. ... Heat forward Juwan Howard, who turned 40 in February, began his NBA career with the Washington Bullets. ... The Wizards next play Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers, their final home game of the season. The Heat host the Boston Celtics on Friday.
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