Finally, a Good Time in Miami

DeShawn Stevenson
DeShawn Stevenson celebrates after hitting one of his six three-pointers in Thursday's win. (Marc Serota - Reuters)
By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007

MIAMI, Dec. 13 -- Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan jotted down plenty of things on the dry-erase board inside his team's locker room before Thursday night's nationally televised game against the Miami Heat. None of it addressed his team's 10-game losing streak at American Airlines Arena.

"That's for other people to worry about," Jordan said of a streak that included eight regular season games and two playoff games. "We're focused on what we have to do on the floor. That other stuff doesn't matter."

And with that, Jordan's team went out, played with passion, executed, and outplayed the struggling Heat from opening tip to final buzzer in a 104-91 victory.

The win was Washington's first at Miami since April 11, 2003, and also gave Jordan's team a three-game winning streak. The Wizards (12-10) maintain a nice cushion over the Heat (6-16) in the Southeast Division standings.

The Wizards led by double digits most of the first half and were up by 19 points three times in the third quarter. But the Heat didn't crack. After cutting the deficit to 12 at the end of the third, Miami trailed by only seven with just less than nine minutes to play.

DeShawn Stevenson, who finished with a season-high 26 points that included a career-high six three-pointers, put the Wizards ahead 96-84 with 4 minutes 41 seconds to go, but Chris Quinn answered with a three-pointer for Miami at the 3:44 mark.

The teams traded misses and Antonio Daniels pushed the Washington lead to 98-87 with a short jumper in the paint. After Dwyane Wade missed a shot on the next Miami possession, frustrated fans began streaming out of the arena and Caron Butler essentially put the game on ice after he swooped in and made a pretty finger-roll layup.

Once again, the Wizards received strong efforts from up and down the lineup. For the fourth straight game, five players scored in double figures.

Butler (19 points, 10 rebounds) Antawn Jamison (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Brendan Haywood (12 points, 10 rebounds) each posted double-doubles and Roger Mason Jr. and Andray Blatche each chipped in with eight points off the bench.

The key statistic was Washington's 48-36 edge in rebounding, including a 14-7 advantage in offensive rebounds. The Wizards also forced 14 Miami turnovers while coughing it up only nine times.

"It definitely feels good to get a win down here," said Haywood, who along with center Etan Thomas was only current Wizard who had won at Miami. "It's been so long and they've owned us for so long, it's one of those things that's good for you mentally."

Quinn led the Heat with 22 points and Wade, who had scored 30 or more in five straight games, finished with 17 on 5-of-11 shooting. The Wizards held the rapidly aging Shaquille O'Neal in check throughout the game.

Stevenson was strong early as he scored 12 first-quarter points while chasing Wade all over the court defensively. On Wednesday, Stevenson joked that he has never played well on national television and promised to treat Thursday's game, which was carried by TNT, as any other.

"I cut off my phone because usually, everyone calls and tells me they are going to be watching the game," said Stevenson. "I don't like those national games so, I cut the phone off, got some rest and just came out and played."

He wasn't alone, as the win improved the Wizards to 9-5 without injured guard Gilbert Arenas and improved them to 12-5 since opening the season with five losses.

"Everyone's stepping up and doing something good," Jordan said.

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