Heat down Wizards, sew up playoff berth
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Dwyane Wade donated 22 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as the Miami Heat ended their three-game slide and clinched a playoff berth with a 99-90 win over the Washington Wizards at AmericanAirlines Arena.
LeBron James supplied 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while Chris Bosh added 22 points and seven boards for the Heat, who haven't lost four in a row since a five-game drought from Feb. 27-March 8, 2011.
"This is a game where we showed some growth," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "The fact that we had to fight for it and compete for it against a playoff team that's playing good basketball was important."
Miami now trails the idle Indiana Pacers by just one game for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Bradley Beal paced Washington with 18 points, Martell Webster scored 17 and Marcin Gortat tallied 14 points and 18 boards for the Wizards, who had won eight of their last nine games coming into the tilt.
Washington led 84-83 following Drew Gooden's layup just past the midpoint of the fourth, but Wade answered with a three-point play to spark a decisive 12-0 run from the Heat.
Bosh buried a 3-pointer in the burst before Wade capped it with a driving layup for a 95-84 lead with 3:13 left.
Beal knocked down a triple to quell the Miami run, but the Heat held Washington to just one field goal the rest of the way to secure the victory.
"We were kind of too lackadaisical with the ball," said Beal. "(We) had a lot of unsure decisions, we should have been a little bit more aggressive."
Early on, James drained three 3-pointers to help the Heat jump out to a 16-6 lead under 4 1/2 minutes in.
Miami carried a 31-23 spread into the second stanza, which saw the Wizards make it a one-possession game a number of times before James fueled a late run that sent the Heat into halftime with an eight-point edge.
A Bosh jumper early in the third pushed Miami's lead to 59-47, but Gortat answered with eight straight points before Trevor Booker followed with a jumper to bring the Wizards within 59-57 with 6:05 left in the third.
Battier buried a 3 and Bosh added a jumper to give Miami a seven-point spread, but the Wizards reeled off 11 straight points to take a 68-64 lead.
Chris Andersen and Ray Allen then combined on a 7-3 swing to tie the tilt and the teams entered the fourth locked at 73-apiece.
Washington had a five-game road win streak snapped and fell to 17-15 away from home this season ... Miami improved to 25-4 at home this season and is unbeaten in its last six contests in South Florida ... Miami forward Udonis Haslem appeared in 700th career game, but did not score ... Gooden finished with 15 points ... Washington outrebounded Miami, 50-33 ... Miami scored 22 points off 19 Washington turnovers.