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Heat vie to end skid versus Wizards
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat could be leading the Eastern Conference right now, but they have failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
Miami returns home Monday to battle the Washington Wizards.
The Heat lost all three games on a recent trip to Houston, San Antonio and Chicago, and are 1 1/2 games behind the East-leading Indiana Pacers, who are mired in a season-high four-game losing streak.
Miami let another chance to get closer to the top fade away in Sunday's 95-88 overtime loss to the Bulls. LeBron James was stripped by Jimmy Butler on his drive to the basket in the waning seconds with the score tied 86-86. The Bulls would score nine of the 11 points in overtime.
"I dropped the ball. It's like a double entendre," James said. "I actually dropped the ball, but I dropped the ball on my team. I had it. That's a great play. I give a lot of credit to Jimmy. He got his hand on the ball, but I had the lane. I had the layup."
James scored 17 points and has failed to reach 20 points in his last two games. He has totaled 58 points over the previous three games since a 61-point blowout of Charlotte on March 3.
Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 25 points, Chris Bosh netted 15 and Norris Cole added 11 points off the bench for Miami, which had won eight in a row before the recent slide and hasn't lost four in a row since a five-game drought from Feb. 27-March 8, 2011.
The Heat have played well at home this season as evidenced by a 24-4 mark and are unbeaten in the past five contests in south Florida. They will also host Brooklyn, Denver and Houston.
Washington will play its next three games against Southeast opponents, Miami, Charlotte and Orlando.
The Wizards have won five in a row on the road and have a 17-14 mark away from home this season. The last time the Wizards ripped off six straight road wins was from Dec. 6-22, 2001. They are 14-6 at home in the last 20 games and have a 103.3 ppg average in that time. John Wall is averaging 18.7 points and 8.6 assists in that stretch.
Wall was held to nine points on 4-of-14 shooting and handed out 13 assists in a 114-107 win over Milwaukee on Saturday, while Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal scored 28 and 23 points, respectively, for the Wizards, who came out sluggish in the third quarter and were outscored 21-10 in the stanza.
The Wizards had a 75-53 lead at halftime.
"We've got guys that need to learn that the game is never over in the NBA," said Washington head coach Randy Wittman. "We came out in the third quarter like we were going to run the clock out and go on home."
Wittman's squad held on to win for the eighth time in nine tries and sits fifth in the East, 1 1/2 games behind Chicago.
Wall is averaging 20.3 points and 10.4 assists in his last seven games. Marcin Gortat, who had 11 points and six rebounds against the Bucks, is posting 17.3 ppg and 10.3 rpg in that span.
The Wizards have six players averaging at least 10 points per game and are not the same pushover team in years past. They have split two meetings with Miami this season and the last eight games overall. Washington, though, has lost three in a row and 16 of 20 trips to South Beach.
03/10 10:59:40 ET