Wizards, Heat tangle in Southeast showdown

(SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week John Wall and the Washington Wizards are in Miami for Friday night's showdown with the Southeast-rival Heat.

The Wizards are just ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for first in the division and have won five straight and nine of the last 10 games.

Wall and the Wizards closed out a perfect three-game homestand with Tuesday's 109-95 victory versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, as the star guard registered 21 points and tied a career high with 17 assists.

"I thought John was terrific on both ends of the floor," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.

Rasual Butler scored a team-best 23 points, Marcin Gortat ended with 15 and Bradley Beal collected 10 points. Washington, which exploded for 35 points in the fourth quarter, shot 50 percent from the floor and connected on 10-of-17 3-pointers.

Washington is going for its first 19-6 start since 1974-75 and is averaging 106.7 ppg this month (8-1). It pushed its mark to 15-0 this season when holding opponents under 100 points.

The Wizards are 5-4 on the road and will play two in a row back at home versus Phoenix and Chicago on Dec. 21-23. Wizards veteran forward Paul Pierce is questionable Friday with a sore toe.

Miami has stumbled out to a 3-7 record in December and opened a seven-game homestand with a disappointing 105-87 loss to the Utah Jazz Wednesday.

Dwyane Wade's 42 points on 12-of-19 shooting weren't enough and Mario Chalmers was the other double-digit scorer with 11 points for the Heat, who shot just 38.6 percent and were in a 33-16 hole after the opening 12 minutes. Utah entered the final stanza with a 77-59 advantage.

"You want to win games like that so you can feel good about yourself," Wade said. "It's hard when you lose, even when you have a good individual performance."

The Heat fell to 4-8 at home on the second night of a back-to-back and did not have forward Chris Bosh for a third straight games because of a calf injury. Bosh is averaging 21.6 points and 8.2 rebounds this season and is expected miss Friday's game.

Like most teams with talent, the Heat have an 11-0 mark when leading after three quarters and are 7-2 when scoring at least 100 points. They have been held under 100 points in each of the previous three games and are averaging just 94.0 ppg (25th in NBA).

Miami is also scheduled to host Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Memphis and Orlando on the lengthy homestand.

In what should be a matchup between past and present with Wade versus Wall, the Heat and Wizards will play the third of four meetings this season. Miami won the first matchup, 107-95, at home on Oct. 29 and Washington returned the favor courtesy of a 107-86 victory in DC on Dec. 1.

Washington has lost six of the past nine meetings in this series and will host Miami on March 6. The Heat are unbeaten in the past five at home versus their Southeast foes.