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By The Sports Xchange January 6, 2013 8:30 PM
MIAMI -- The Miami Heat, criticized recently for its lack of rebounding, turned in a strong effort on the boards and defeated the Washington Wizards, 99-71, Sunday night. LeBron James led the Heat (23-9) with 24 points, seven assists and two rebounds. He sprained his left ankle in the third quarter but remained in the game. The Heat, owners of the best record in the Eastern Conference, won the boards battle, 49-39. The Wizards (4-28) have lost five games in a row and have the worst record in the NBA this season, even though one of their wins came against the reigning league-champion Heat. In fact, even with the win, the Heat are just 3-3 in their past six games against Washington. But on Sunday, the Heat never trailed in a relatively easy win. The Heat closed the game with a 21-0 run. After Friday's home loss to Chicago, though, a frustrated Chris Bosh of the Heat said he was "out of recommendations" when it came to his team's rebounding numbers, which rank next to last in the NBA. On Sunday, Bosh responded with 17 points and nine rebounds. In his past three games, he had a total of just 13 rebounds. Elsewhere for the Heat, guard Dwyane Wade was held to 14 points after scoring at least 20 points in seven straight games. The Heat made up for that with strong efforts off the bench by Ray Allen (20 points) and Mike Miller (13 points). Meanwhile, the Wizards, who have more overtime losses (five) than wins (four) this season, were led by Kevin Seraphin (14 points) and Cartier Martin (13 points). The Heat led 52-44 at the half, shooting 50 percent from the field and outrebounding the Wizards, 22-20. Notes: The Heat has released reserve guard Terrell Harris. If he clears waivers, he could be re-signed Monday on a 10-day contract. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the move was made to give the team roster flexibility. ... Wizards rookie and former Florida Gator Bradley Beal is coming off a career-high 24 points in a double-overtime loss to Brooklyn on Friday. He averaged 13.4 points in December, earning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors. ... Four injured Wizards practiced Sunday and are close to returning: John Wall (left knee), A.J. Price (broken right hand), Trevor Ariza (left calf) and Trevor Booker (right knee). ... Point guard Garrett Temple, who was the Heat's final cut in the preseason, is now starting for the Wizards and is coming off a career-high 11 assists against Brooklyn. "We were a big fan of (Temple)," Spoelstra said. "That was a tough cut. He should've been in this league already. It's good to see him get an opportunity with these guys. You root for guys like that." ... Up next, the Wizards return home to face Oklahoma City on Monday, their second straight game against a 2012 NBA finalist. ... The Heat starts a six-game road trip Tuesday at Indiana.