Heat get back on track, beat Wizards

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- A losing record, even just three games in, is not something that sat well with the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he "put it on our starters to set the tone," and those starters responded.
Led by a game-high 25 points from LeBron James, the Miami Heat snapped their uncharacteristic two-game losing streak, defeating the Washington Wizards 103-93 Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Chris Bosh added 24 points and seven rebounds. Dwyane Wade had 20 points as the Heat improved to 2-2, including 2-0 at home. Last season, the Heat went 37-4 at home.
"We came out aggressive, not waiting for the game to come to us; actually taking it to the game," James said. "We came out in the first quarter with an aggressive mindset. That allowed us to get into the game well.
"We understand that when we move the ball well, we are a very dynamic team. We have a lot of guys who can score. When we make the extra pass, that makes it easier for everyone."
James had five of the Heat's 32 assists, which were 10 more than the Wizards. Heat point guard Mario Chalmers had a team-high eight assists, and that spirit of sharing the ball led to 52.9 percent shooting from Miami.
The 3-point shooting was stellar, too, as the Heat made 11 of 27 for 40.7 percent. Norris Cole made 3 of 4 on 3-pointers, and James made 3 of 5.
Spoelstra said he was happy with his team's intensity and movement.
"We can't fall back into bad habits of trying to will it, isolate it," Spoelstra said. "It's hard to predetermine who will end up with the open shot. That's where we have to trust and play five-man action."
Sunday's game had only one lead change. The Wizards got off to a 9-2 start before the Heat quickly recovered. Miami outscored the Wizards 31-18 the rest of the first quarter.
The Heat continued its hot shooting in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 61-48 lead. The Heat shot 57.5 percent in the first half in what stands as their best opening 24 minutes so far this season.
Washington shot 50 percent in the first half, but the Wizards made 12 turnovers and struggled to come up with stops.
The Heat extended their lead to 87-64 after three quarters. Miami maintained its hot shooting -- 55.2 percent from the field, including 11 of 23 on 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, the Wizards cooled off on their shooting, making just 4 of 22 shots in the third period.
The Wizards made an 18-5 run in the fourth quarter and got as close as 92-82 with 6:30 left in the game.
But that was as close as the Wizards (0-3) got until the final minute. The Wizards were led by 19 points from shooting guard Bradley Beal.
Washington also got a gutsy performance from point guard John Wall, who had 11 points and nine assists. Wall missed Saturday's practice due to painful back spasms, but he went out and competed against the Heat.
"John played a good floor game by trying to get guys involved," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Wall, who did have five turnovers. "He had better concentration, and his defensive effort was tough. Now he has to maintain that."
Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards, but forward Trevor Ariza was held to 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
"It was a frustrating game for him, but he stuck with it," Wittman said. "We went smaller in the fourth quarter and moved him to the four-position. That gave us great spacing.
"I thought our whole team stayed with it -- we kept fighting. Nobody likes to lose, but I thought we took some steps in the right direction."
NOTES: Wizards F Trevor Booker suffered a finger injury on his left Sunday. ... Friday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets left the Heat with a losing record for the first time since Oct. 26, 2010 -- the first game of the team's LeBron James era. ... It was also the first time in 10 months that the Heat had lost two straight games. ... Wizards C Nene did not play due to a left calf strain. He missed the opener due to the same injury. ... Wizards F Otto Porter, their top draft pick, is out with a hip injury. ... Next up for the Wizards is a game at Philadelphia on Wednesday vs. the surprising 76ers (3-0). ... Next up for the Heat is Monday's game at the Toronto Raptors.

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